Red Cross honors Mountain Area “Heroes”

Three deputies and a sergeant from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office were honored last Friday, March 20 at the American Red Cross Central Valley Real Heroes banquet for their selfless acts of heroism during the last year’s Courtney Fire.

Madera County Sheriff’s Deputies Warren Anderson, Eric Grialva, Chris Williams and Sergeant Larry Rich were honored last Friday for being instrumental in alerting the Oakhurst community of the quickly growing Courtney Fire and evacuating residents immediately, potentially saving lives.

More than 500 people attended the event which goal is to recognize Central Valley heroes who are seemingly ordinary people but have touched the lives of community members through their selfless acts of courage while raising money for future disasters.

A total of 14 people, one dog, and an organization were honored during Friday‘s event, all for their unselfish acts of bravery. In addition to honoring local heroes, Congressman Devin Nunes was in attendance to present Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Mroczka with the Congressional Badge of Bravery who was shot twice in Fresno while attempting to arrest a fugitive wanted in connection to a violent sexual assault.

The 1940’s themed event included a live band, vintage cars, dancing and a silent auction and all proceeds went to help the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Regional Director of Communications Jessica Piffero said Anderson, Grijalva, Williams and Rich were chosen for their unquestioned bravery in the face of danger.

“The Red Cross works closely with law enforcement officials like the Madera County Sheriff’s Office on a regular basis and especially in times of disaster,” Piffero said. “We’re grateful for the compassion and partnership of these heroes during the Courtney Fire and every day they serve.”

Other “Real Heroes” honored at Friday’s event included:

Youth heroes: Fresno teenagers, Cole Emerzian and Kyle Stoll for rescuing a family from their burning home.

Good Samaritan hero: Donna Johnson, known as the “Water Angel,” began collection water donations and distributing them to residents affected by the historic drought.

Fire Rescue Hero: Emilion Valencia risked his life to enter a burning home to rescue a trapped r4resident.

Community Partner Hero: The Poverello House for every day provides food, warmth, and compassion to the homeless, hungry, alone, and sick who have no one to care for them.

Health Care Hero: Shaun Vincent, an American Ambulance employee, saved a man on the side of the road after he had gone into cardiac arrest while driving his car to the store.

Military Heroes: John Cook, Richard Helm Jr. and Brian Lango recognized these Army veterans came across a car accident and leapt into action to save the lives of women inside.

Animal Rescue Heroes: Dave Ward and K-9 Callie served as an ignitable liquid detection team for eight years and assisted fore investigations throughout Fresno County to put arsonists behind bars.

Spirit of the American Red Cross: Charlie Water for his advocacy for military veterans in the Central Valley who fought for 300 bed Veterans Home of California