Prince George's County police officers and firefighters have been honored by the county for heroic actions over the past year, including the rescue of people trapped in burning buildings and a child from the depths of a frozen pond.
Volunteer Rescue Squad member Sean E. King and firefighter Gordon B. Thorne received the Fire Department's gold medal of valor and firefighter of the year awards. The awards luncheon was scheduled for yesterday at the Sheraton Inn in Lanham.
King waded into the 34-degree water of Willow Lake in Laurel last month to rescue Michael Fabyanic Jr., 11, who had fallen through the ice while trying to retrieve a football. He got to within six feet of the boy and threw him a rope, and other rescuers were able to pull them to shore. King and the boy were treated for hypothermia.
Firefighter Thorne was on his way home from work last July when he saw a small plane crash next to a highway near Mechanicsville. He was giving emergency medical care to the pilot when he noticed fuel leaking from ruptured tanks.
Thorne tried to get bystanders to help him free the pilot from the wreckage, but they were afraid the plane might explode. Thorne then freed the pilot and persuaded a passer-by to help pull him to safety. The plane did not explode.
The Police Department awarded its Emergency Response Team a silver medal of valor. The team members are experts in handling barricade and hostage situations, underwater rescue and recovery, explosives identification and safety, emergency medical treatment and other hazardous activities. The 11-member team was honored for "valor, courage and bravery above and beyond the call of duty."
Cpl. Mark K. Sorrell and Cpl. William D. Cavanaugh were also awarded silver medals of valor and named police officers of the year.
Sorrell spotted a house on fire while on patrol near District Heights, and sounded his siren to wake residents, two of whom jumped to safety. Canavaugh arrived and helped Sorrell rescue another occupant. Cavanaugh was hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation and minor burns.
Pfc. Joseph Lomax received a bronze medal of valor for saving a neighbor from a burning house.
The Police Department also issued departmental injury citations to Sgt. Paul Tucker, Cpl. John J. Magruder Jr. and Cpl. Robert S. Sinton. Tucker was paralyzed in a fall from a ladder while trying to get to an armed man who had barricaded himself in a house. Magruder and Sinton were wounded during the arrest of a suspected drug dealer.
Volunteer Fire Lt. Thomas Shamblin was awarded the silver medal of valor and firefighters Mark Mollohan, Mark Trader, Jeff Chandler, David Schultz and Robert Van Vliet were awarded bronze medals of valor for rescuing persons trapped in burning buildings.
Fire Department fleet administrator John Crisman received the chief's honorary award for innovations in cutting costs.