Two Southern Division CHP Officers awarded the Medal of Valor.
The Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor is the highest honor California bestows upon its employees. Since the program began in 1958, more than 500 medals have been awarded. In a public ceremony the Governor awards Gold or Silver medals to State employees who risked their lives to save others or State property. Among this year’s 52 recipients of the medal of valor is 10 California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers, one CHP sergeant, and one CHP lieutenant. These individuals were recognized for their acts of heroism extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty during a ceremony last Thursday, April 23, 2015, at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento.
The following are summaries of two heroic actions performed by CHP personnel:
Officer Jacob Moniz, #18366
On April 7, 2011, at approximately 5:35 p.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Jacob Moniz encountered a man walking on the right shoulder of the busy eastbound Interstate 10 in West Covina. Using the patrol vehicle’s public address system, Officer Moniz instructed the man to stop. The man stopped initially and then walked into the far right lane.
Officer Moniz left his vehicle, walked to the right shoulder, and gave the man several clear instructions to come back to the right shoulder. The man seemed to comply by taking a few steps towards the Officer, then he suddenly turned and ran straight into traffic.
Without hesitation, Officer Moniz ran after the man, grabbed the back of his clothing, and prevented him from running directly into the path of a passing big rig. Upon questioning, the man revealed he intended to commit suicide.
Officer Michael Burton, #17895
On July 20, 2014, at approximately 9:35 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Burton was off duty and traveling with his family in Kern County when he encountered a traffic collision involving a pickup truck that had gone off the road and overturned onto its roof.
Officer Burton pulled over to assist. He realized the driver was trapped inside the cab, but he could not reach him because the roof was crushed and the doors would not open. The engine compartment was smoldering and igniting. Two men arrived and with Officer Burton bearing the brunt of the effort, they were able to roll the truck back on its wheels. Officer Burton tried to reach the driver, but the fire increased and smoke filled the cab, eventually becoming so thick he could no longer see the driver. A Kern County deputy arrived and attempted unsuccessfully to put the fire out with his fire extinguisher.
Suddenly, the driver reached through the shattered rear window and cried for help. Officer Burton climbed into the truck bed, grabbed the driver’s arm and began pulling. Before long he was able to free the driver’s other arm, head and shoulders, and then pulled him out. With the assistance of the deputy, Officer Burton carried the man to safety seconds before the truck became fully engulfed in flames.
CHP Officers perform countless selfless acts every day that go unnoticed. Today, we honor two officers who uphold and maintain the reputation of serving both on and off duty the people of California. Their loyalty, dedication and willingness to lay down their lives is deserving of much more. Please join the California Highway Patrol in honoring these brave officers who work on Southern California Freeways