Thirteen South Bay police officers and a firefighter, including some who risked their lives to save others, will be honored today.
Four police officers will receive Medals of Valor at the 13th awards luncheon sponsored by nine South Bay chambers of commerce. They are Redondo Beach Sgt. John Skipper and Agent Bruce Rosin and Torrance Officers Robert Bowman and Mark Hein.
Skipper and Rosin rescued a woman who was trapped in her South Redondo apartment during a January, 1986, standoff between a gunman barricaded in the apartment below and the city's SWAT team.
The woman and the gunman shared a front entry and she could not escape. Skipper and Rosin placed a ladder between the roof of the apartment house and a roof next door, ran across it and removed the woman through a second-story window. Negotiators eventually talked the gunman into surrendering and no one was injured.
Bowman, 29, risked his life last April to help another officer who had been shot by a man barricaded inside a sporting goods shop. Bowman went into the gunman's line of fire and pulled Officer Thomas Keller, 25, to safety. Keller died at the scene minutes later.
Gunman Slays Self
The 22-year-old man inside the store eventually turned the gun on himself and died of a chest wound.
Hein, 27, played a key role in the capture of four armed jewel thieves in February, 1986, and the recovery of $200,000 in stolen jewelry. He chased the four men by car and on foot and captured two of the men single-handedly.
The 10 other recipients will receive Distinguished Service Awards at today's ceremony. Seven police officers will be honored for entering burning buildings in four separate incidents, without fire protection equipment, to save people trapped inside.
They are Inglewood Police Officers Richard (Zack) Causey, 35; Donald Daher, 40; Mark Libman, 27, and Thomas Rowson, 30; El Segundo Police Officer Frank (Monty) Montecalvo, 48; Hawthorne Officer Tom Jester, 32, and Redondo Beach Police Agent Gerald Fairchild, 46.
The four Inglewood officers were hospitalized briefly last November after inhaling toxic fumes while searching a burning apartment building. Daher and Rowson rescued a man--the only occupant-- who had collapsed from smoke inhalation, using a garden hose to get through the flames and smoke.
El Segundo Officer Montecalvo, who was off-duty at the time, also entered a burning house last November and rescued a man trapped inside. Both were treated for smoke inhalation.
Carried Woman to Safety
Hawthorne Officer Jester, carried a crippled 52-year-old woman to safety last June as fire spread through her apartment. He returned to help the firefighters clean up after the fire was extinguished and to help the maintenance man replace the doorknob Jester had broken when he kicked the door open.
Redondo Beach Police Agent Fairchild rescued a semiconscious woman last May from a burning apartment. He kicked open the door, crawled through the apartment and dragged out the woman, who was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
Manhattan Beach Police Officers John Hensley, 31, and Randolph Leaf, 30, and firefighter and paramedic John MacGregor, 28, also will receive Distinguished Service Awards.
The police officers searched the ocean in March, 1986, for a woman they believed was trying to commit suicide. Although it was dark and there were swells up to six feet and a severe riptide, the officers swam around in an unsuccessful search for the woman until they were exhausted and returned to shore.
A man, apparently drunk, then dived into the ocean to save the woman. Hensley went back in the ocean to rescue the man and both were caught in the riptide. The man was able to swim to shore, and Leaf and MacGregor saved Hensley from drowning.
The woman was eventually rescued by Los Angeles County Lifeguards.