Actions Meriting Community Member, Deputies & Public Safety Personnel Commendations Described

On Thursday, June 27, 2024, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department recognized 25 individuals during the Sheriff’s Exceptional Service Awards for 2022 and 2023 in Highland.
Sheriff Shannon Dicus, who played a central role in refining the list of those to be honored for their demonstrated courage, bravery and quick and decisive action in keeping the community safe, was unable to present the awards, as was planned, due to a family emergency but expressed gratitude to all those who had been selected for the recognition. In his place, Assistant Sheriff Rick Bessinger made the presentations.
The Sentinel has obtained and assembled the following narratives which accompanied the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s recommendation of valor and extraordinary service on the part of the 25 community members, public safety personnel, and Sheriff’s Department members who distinguished themselves during the eleven incidents in which their immediate action saved lives or otherwise averted disaster.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at approximately 4:15 p.m., John Kraus, a 53-year-old Yucaipa resident, watched as the driver of a Mazda Protégé lost control while driving on Calimesa Boulevard in Yucaipa. The Mazda slid sideways onto the shoulder of the roadway, then impacted a wood railing and the pony wall to the flood control channel.
The Mazda was nearly torn in half and the driver was trapped inside. Kraus approached the wreckage, realizing as he did no that the driver suffered a traumatic amputation of his right leg above the knee along with other significant injuries and a major loss of blood.
Recognizing he needed to stanch the driver’s further blood loss, Kraus utilized his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding until medical arrived.
“If it wasn’t for John’s quick thinking and immediate action, the driver would have succumbed to his injuries before medical aid arrived,” according to the sheriff’s department.
On the morning of Thursday, June 29, 2023 at approximately 6:30 a.m., while Detective Shaunna Ables was driving to work at the Morongo Sheriff’s Station through the Twentynine Palms area, she noticed black smoke billowing in a residential neighborhood. Heading in the direction of the smoke, Ables came across a vehicle and a fence on fire in the 72300 block of Sunnyslope Drive. The fire was quickly spreading to the roof of a nearby residence.
After notifying the Sheriff’s dispatch center, Ables knock on the door to awaken the sleeping residents. Ables assisted the family out of the house which consisted of four children and an elderly disabled woman.
Before the responding fire company arrived and while Ables was evacuating the first residence, the fire spread to a neighboring house. Informed by a resident that an elderly male lived in the neighboring residence, at that point approaching being 70 percent engulfed in flames.
Deputy Brandon Narcisse arrived at the scene and both Narcisse and Ables yelled into the residence, to which the faint voice of the elderly man could be heard responding. The fire having consumed the front of residence and advancing toward the rear, Ables and Narcisse, without any protective equipment or gearn ran through the front door and, despite the heat and smoke, were able to locate the elderly man and evacuate him from the midst of the fire rapidly spreading through the residence to safety.
“If not for the quick thinking and heroic actions of both Shaunna and Brandon, several lives would have been lost that day to the fire,” according to the department.
On the afternoon of Saturday, July 29, 2023, at approximately 2:50 p.m., Jose Pulido, the chef at the P.F. Chang’s restaurant in Chino Hills, was in that establishment’s kitchen when a gunman entered and shot a staff member. Several of the kitchen personnel ran to safety, but Pulido, who was a few feet from the suspect, disregardful of his own safety launched himself toward the assailant, tackling him and then grappling with him after they both went to the floor. During the struggle, the suspect lost control of the firearm.
While Pulido and the shooter were thus engaged, the victim, who was shot once, was able to escape and seek medical treatment.
Pulido continued to wrestle the suspect and was able to pin him down until sheriff’s deputies arrived.
According to the sheriff’s Department, “Jose’s courageous and decisive actions were directly responsible for the preservation of the victim’s life and the lives of everyone else inside the restaurant that day.”
On the morning of Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at approximately 9:45 a.m., the sheriff’s dispatch center received a call for service for a fire at a residence located in the Jess Ranch Retirement Community in Apple Valley. Deputy Ernesto Madrigal was the first to arrive and saw the front of the residence and garage were already engulfed in flames, and explosions could be heard coming from the residence.
Madrigal jumped the fence to the back yard and found the rear door to the residence. When he opened it, black smoke billowed out, making it impossible to see inside. To Madrigal’s shouts, a faint male voice called back.
Without hesitation, Madrigal entered the residence and located a disabled elderly man who had difficulty walking. Madrigal evacuated the man from the residence and got him to medical aid personnel who transported the man to a nearby hospital for fire related treatment.
According to the department, “If it wasn’t for the swift decisions followed by the selfless actions of Ernesto, the Jess Ranch Retirement Community would be morning the loss their friend.”
In July of 2022, Mike Ball and Severin Christensen witnessed a vehicle lose control and drive off the side of the mountain on Highway 38. The vehicle went down about 30 feet and ultimately crashed into a tree.
Ball and Christensen ran down the embankment as the vehicle started to catch on fire. They reached the driver who was unwilling to leave the vehicle due to her disorientation. Ball and Christensen knew they had to get her out of the vehicle as the fire was getting worse.
Together, Ball and Christensen pulled the driver from the vehicle and were able to get her a safe distance away from the fire. By the time emergency personnel arrived at the scene, the vehicle was fully engulfed, and a rescue would not have been possible.
“Thankfully Mike and Severin did not take no for an answer and their quick thinking and teamwork saved the driver’s life,” according to the sheriff’s department.
On January 20, 2023, at approximately 3:00 p.m., hiker Dean Colbert, a retired Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, was hiking in the San Antonio Falls area of Mt. Blady when he observed a group of hikers frantically waiving for help. Colbert climbed down an icy and steep mountainside to reach them and found one of the hikers had a severe head injury due to falling debris. Colbert directed one of the hikers to leave the area and call for help while he stayed and tended to the injured hiker.
Deputy Chris Henry is assigned to the Mt. Baldy resident deputy position and received the call for help. Henry, along with Firefighters Cary Mitchell and Adam Salveson arrived and located the victim about 150 yards down the icy and treacherous trail. When they reached the victim, they saw she had an open wound to her head, exposing a portion of her brain. They knew they had limited time to get her the medical treatment she desperately needed.
Henry made arrangements to have the victim hoisted out of the canyon by a sheriff’s department helicopter, but as the weather was severe and winds were too high, the helicopter was unable to reach them. Henry, Mitchell, Salveson and Colbert made the decision to evacuate the victim themselves. During the evacuation, Henry fell in the icy conditions, and became injured, but he was able to continue moving the victim to safety where additional emergency personnel could reach them. The victim was transported to a local hospital and received emergency medical treatment.
“Had it not been for the bravery, skill, and dedication of Chris, Cary, Adam and Dean, the victim’s chances of survival would have been grim,” according to the sheriff’s department. “Instead, after a few days in the hospital, the victim made a full recovery.”
On the evening of Thursday, February 23, 2023, Captain Ross Tarangle was just getting off work from the Colorado River Station and noticed heavy smoke from a nearby residential area in Needles. Tarangle drove toward the smoke and found a residence was on fire.
Tarangle was the first responder on the scene, and he notified sheriff’s dispatch center of the fire. A neighbor told Tarangle he heard someone from inside the residence screaming for help. The garage was fully engulfed and the fire was spreading to the rest of the residence. Several rounds of ammunition and multiple cans of gasoline that were stored in the garage began to explode.
Hearing a woman screaming for help from inside the residence, Tarangle did not wait for the fired department, and immediately entered the residence. Tarangle found the female, a bed-ridden quadriplegic and her elderly father, who was too weak to escape. Tarange carried the woman to safety and without hesitation re-entered the burning residence. He was able to help the man to safety and reunite him with his daughter.
“Ross’s quick reactions and courageous measures were instrumental in saving the lives of the father and daughter, proving no matter how high the rank, deputy sheriffing never goes away,” the department stated.
On the afternoon of Monday, August 14, 2023, Deputy Jeremy Deruiter was on patrol at the Colorado River Station, Parker Dam area when he conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle code violation. The driver was identified as a violent wanted subject and he fled, leading Deruiter on a high-speed pursuit.
After 22 miles, the suspect slowed his vehicle, headed it toward the aqueduct, and jumped from the moving vehicle. The suspect fled on foot and the vehicle came to rest in the water-filled aqueduct. Deruiter lit out after the suspect but his attention was arrested by something else.
“As he exited the vehicle, the vehicle went into the canal,” Deruiter said. “I could see the kid banging on the windows.”
Realizing there was a young child in the vehicle, Deruiter went back to the sinking vehicle and could see what turned out to be a 6-year-old child strapped into a car seat and unable to escape the vehicle that was quickly filling with water. Deruiter jumped into the flowing aqueduct in full gear and used his rapid containment baton to break the vehicle’s window. Decruiter was able to rescue the child just as the passenger compartment filled with water.
Upon ensuring the child was safe, Deruiter coordinated the efforts to locate the wanted suspect and the suspect was apprehended a short time later.
“Jeremy’s ability to remain calm during the high-speed pursuit, coupled with his ability to continuously observe his surroundings led him to the discovery of the child which was instrumental in saving the child’s life,” according to the department.
On the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, 2022, Deputy Larry Torres was dispatched to a residential fire in Adelanto. As the first responder to arrive, Torres was immediately approached by a frantic mother who told him her nine-year-old son was trapped inside the residence.
Without hesitation Torres entered the burning, smoke-filled residence. Searching the home room by room, Torres located the child with his dog in the rear bedroom of the residence. The child was insistent that he was not going to leave without his dog.
Torres forced open the bedroom window and helped the dog through the window. Knowing the dog was safe, the child was willing and Torres helped the child out of the window and was able to get both the child and his dog to safety.
The child was transported to a nearby hospital for fire related treatment.
“Larry’s decision to enter the burning residence without due regard for his own safety is the reason the child will have many more years to spend with his best furry friend,” according to the department.
On the afternoon of Monday, January 16, 2023, Deputies Larry Torres, Jacob Delano, and Kevin Konior were on patrol at the Victor Valley Station and responded to a fire in an apartment complex. Delano was the first to arrive and noticed one of the apartments was fully engulfed. Kevin arrived on scene seconds after Delano and they both entered the burning complex to start evacuations.
Delano and Konior located a resident who was bedridden and could not evacuate on her own. They entered her smoke-filled apartment and carried her to the courtyard where they were met by Torres. With Torees’ assistance they were able to carry her out of the complex to safety.
The three deputies went back into the burning complex and evacuated 12 more residents to safety.
One of the residents had to be transported to a nearby hospital for fire related treatment.
“If it wasn’t for the selfless act of the three deputies and a disregard for their own safety, the apartment fire could have resulted in the tragic loss of several lives,” according to the department.
On Saturday, July 16, 2022, Deputy Marcus Mason from the Rancho Cucamonga Station responded to a suspicious person call. Mason arrived in the area and located the suspect, seated in a vehicle. Mason found the suspect was on active parole and had the suspect exit the vehicle to comply with his conditions of parole.
As Mason began to search the suspect for weapons, the suspect pulled a handgun from his waistband and Mason and the suspect began to fight for control of the firearm. As the two struggled, the suspect shot the firearm several times, striking Mason in the chest and waist for times. As Mason was critically wounded, he was able to radio pertinent information to dispatch and his partners.
Deputies Casey Allen, Eric Rebollar and David Johnson were working a traffic enforcement detail nearby and immediately responded to Mason. Working together, the deputies utilized their shooting trauma kits and began to give life saving medical treatment to Mason while reassuring him that he would be okay, and they were going to take care of him. Rebollar requested a helicopter to nearby Chaffey College in order to transport Mason to the hospital.
Simultaneously, Rancho Cucamonga Fire District Battalion Chief Chad Comeau and the Ontario Police Department’s helicopter crew, consisting of Pilot/Officer Derrick Alatorre and Flight Observer/Officer Michael Ayala were monitoring the patrol channel and heard Mason’s radio transmission that he was shot.
Comeau immediately dispatched his station’s medic engine crew and gave them the direction to enter the scene instead of waiting for the assistance call which accelerated their response time. Comeau’s quick actions saved valuable time and enabled Firefighter/Paramedic Alex Wherry to reach Mason and assume life saving measures within minutes.
Officers Alatorre and Ayala were on aerial patrol and not set up for medical transport, but they knew they were the closest helicopter. They landed at Chaffey College and immediately began taking out their back seats and prepared their helicopter for the medivac transport.
Meanwhile, Allen, Rebollar, and Johnson loaded Marcus into the backseat of their patrol car and transported him to the college while Wherry continued to provide medical treatment. Once at the college, the helicopter was already prepared for the transport. The deputies helped load Marcus into the helicopter and Wherry continued the in-flight medical care until they reached the Pomona Valley Hospital.
Trauma Surgeon Onaona Gurney and a team of trauma personnel were waiting for Mason to arrive and rushed him into surgery. Mason underwent several hours of complicated surgery to assess and repair multiple internal injuries. Dr. Gurney’s experience and determination were key to successfully repairing the extensive damage Marcus sustained from the gunshots.
From the time Mason advised he was shot Communications Dispatcher Heather Lassiter was a constant voice on the other side of radio assuring Mason he would be okay. She focused her attention on coordinating the efforts to ensure he received the urgent response needed to save his life. Lassiter remained calm and collected during one of the most difficult situations for a dispatcher to experience. Her experience displayed confidence as she controlled the communications amongst multiple personnel and agencies responding to Mason’s aid. Lassiter continued to organize the rapid response of additional personnel who began the dauntless search for the suspect.
The suspect was apprehended a short time later.
“The actions of the aforementioned resulted in a collective and rapid response that led to saving Marcus’ life,” according to the sheriff’s department. “From the first deputies to arrive on scene who began rendering critical aid, to the firefighters who risked their own safety by entering an active scene to provide patient care, to the helicopter crew that was determined to make the urgent needed transport to the surgeon who expertly performed lifesaving surgery and the dispatcher who led the way with calmness and clarity, all of this greatly contributed to what continues to be a successful outcome for Marcus, his family, his friends, his co-workers and all who know him.”
Sheriff Shannon Dicus said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the heroes we honored from our department and the community. Putting yourself in harms way to save another is what make these heroes exceptional.”
According to the department, “Each recipient made a significant impact on our community.”

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