On June 11, 2010, the flight crew from the Kern County Sheriff rescue helicopter, Air-5, were recognized with top-honors at the Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation’s annual awards dinner. Pilot Berto Penaloza and Deputy Tim Caughron were awarded Exceptional Officer of the Year awards, and Deputy Jason Nelson received the Medal of Valor award.
The nomination resulted from a hoist-rescue operation last summer over the upper Kern River. Air-5 responded to a reported near drowning of an 11-year old girl swimming in the river with family members. The girl was swept away by the current and became pinned against a rock. The girl was submerged for several minutes before being pulled from the water by family. The girl was unconscious, unresponsive and stranded on a rock in the river.
Air-5 hoisted Deputy Nelson to the rock to package her for transport. The girl was hoisted into the helicopter and transported to an awaiting EMS helicopter for transport to the local trauma center. The girl remained unresponsive through transport and spent several weeks in a comatose state.
Following months of intensive rehabilitation, the victim and her family were able to attend the awards banquet and were present on stage as the flight crew were recognized for the operation. The victim continues her recovery and her family reports seeing noticeable improvement every day.
- Deadline for Salute to Excellence Awards Nominations closes Friday
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