Police Honor Officer Who Helped Residents at Apartment Fire

A Montgomery County police officer who helped residents during the Flower Avenue Apartments explosion and fire was one of seven officers to receive the department’s Medal of Valor at a ceremony this week.

The Medal of Valor, the department’s highest honor, goes to an employee for heroism and distinction in hazardous circumstances.

Officer Jeffrey Hughes, who was working off duty at the apartments Aug. 10, left to help another officer at the Long Branch Library, when he heard the loud explosion at the apartment complex, a police statement said.

He returned to the apartments to see the fire and that some of the building appeared to have collapsed. Hughes helped residents who were jumping to safety from their burning apartments. He helped fire and rescue personnel in determining the number of possible victims, the statement said.

A single event on March 16 resulted in 13 officers receiving awards, including six who received the Medal of Valor. The officers tried to stop a car driven by a suspect involved in a conspiracy to commit murder, the statement said.

The car refused to stop, drove into Olney, and for a time, officers lost sight of the car, according to a police statement from the incident. When officers crossed the Intercounty Connector, they found the car crashed into trees and engulfed in flames, police said.

The officers who responded to the collision saw smoke coming from the vehicle and, reacting quickly, removed the three individuals from the vehicle just as the car became completely engulfed in fire, the statement said.

The driver, a man, was taken to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries, the statement said. A woman and another man in the car were taken to a local trauma center with nonlife-threatening injuries, the statement said.

Police awarded Medals of Valor to Officer Daniel Garcia, Officer Mark Monsini, Officer David Schramm, Officer William Seidel, Officer Thomas Tibbs and Officer Stephen Wells.

Officer Kevin Correa, Officer Ashley Mosner and Officer Holman Santos received Life Saving Awards for the incident. The Life Saving Award is given to an employee who makes a major contribution toward saving the life of another by providing essential medical treatment before emergency medical services personnel can arrive.

Cpl. Raymond Bennett, Officer Nicholas Bonturi, Officer Bassell Ifield and Officer James Walls received commendations. Commendations are awarded to employees who make a significant contribution to the mission of the department beyond the ordinary call of duty.

Other recipients of Life Saving Awards were:

— Officer Barton Hudson, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation for about 4 minutes on a person who suffered a heart attack until fire and rescue arrived. The individual was taken to Shady Grove Hospital.

— Officer Seth Carson, who performed CPR on an individual who had suffered a heart attack. The individual recovered.

— Officer Roderick Cox, Officer Andrew Richardson, Officer Samuel Supnick and Officer Joshua Swecker, who applied life-saving measures to an individual who was a suspect in a robbery. The individual had broken through a window to gain access to a house, police said. The officers found the suspect going in and out of consciousness. He had a large laceration on his arm, later determined to be an arterial bleed. The suspect was combative. Officers applied pressure and a hemostatic agent to the wound in an attempt to stop the heavy bleeding, the statement said. When this failed, officers applied a tourniquet to the arm. The individual was hospitalized and survived his injuries, police said.

— Cpl. Joseph Dodson reached through a fence along the overpass of Columbia Pike and Briggs Chaney Road to prevent a suicidal individual from jumping off the overpass, the statement said.

— Officer Dale Steffen found a 16-year-old girl threatening suicide on the roof of her house and went on the roof to pull her to safety, the statement said.

Other officers who received commendations are:

— Cpl. Bill Tran and Sgt. Edward Wilcher, who responded to a first-degree assault. The officers found and arrested the suspects and recovered a semi-automatic handgun from the suspects’ possession. The gun had been stolen in a recent residential burglary, police said.

— Officer Andrew Byrd, Officer Andrew Curran and Officer Laura Nichols, who received commendations for their roles during an incident that involved a suicidal individual with a handgun. The officers found the person in his vehicle. The individual told police he had a loaded handgun and other firearms in the trunk of his vehicle, police said. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the officers were able to persuade the individual to surrender his handgun and exit his vehicle, police said.

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