Bronze Star

2020 Bronze Star Medals Awarded

CDCR Bronze Star medal

30 Bronze Star Recipients in 17 Incidents

The Bronze Star is awarded for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.

Alejandro Buenrostro, Correctional Officer, and Chalet Valencia, Licensed Vocational Nurse, both of the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Driving home after working double shifts, they came upon a two-car accident. They stopped to help.

Exhibiting good teamwork, they split up to help the crash victims. Officer Buenrostro went to a vehicle where an elderly man was trapped and he rendered aid until help arrived.

LVN Valencia helped a young woman from the other car, which was still on the road and moved her to safety.

Frank Hurtado, Parole Agent III, Escondido 2 Parole Unit

Agent Hurtado heard the sound of a violent vehicle collision and saw the impact had flipped a car onto its top.

He ran to the site and found the driver hanging upside down. He freed the driver and helped him from the vehicle and onto a nearby patch of grass.

Recognizing the symptoms of shock in the driver, he helped reassure her and treat her until paramedics arrived.

Renato Benitez-Sanchez, Correctional Officer, California Institution for Men

Officer Benitez-Sanchez was heading to Ironwood State Prison when he spotted a woman sitting on an overpass.

Pulling over to ask if she was OK, he soon realized she was contemplating suicide. Tears streamed down the woman’s face as she shook her head “no” in response the question: “Are you OK?”

He called 911. The dispatcher told him the nearest officer was at least 20 minutes away. Renato eventually won the woman’s confidence and guided her off the ledge.

Hector A. Lopez, Associate Warden, California Rehabilitation Center

While walking to his car as he was off-duy, AW Lopez saw two men taking an older man from a car. The man was lifeless. It turned out the two men were sons of the older man.

A son of tried to give his father chest compressions but was having trouble. Hector identified himself as law enforcement and took over giving CPR.

After paramedics took the man to the hospital, Hector received a text message from a firefighter about the victim: “Tell Hector good job. He probably saved his life.”

Albert G. Morales, Correctional Officer

David Willer, Registered Nurse

Daniel Hauck, Associate Governmental Program Analyst

and Nicholas Hernandez II, Correctional Counselor, all of California Correctional Institution

Driving to CCI, the four came across an accident that had just happened.

A vehicle had rolled numerous times and came to rest on its side. Showing admirable teamwork, some in the group climbed on top of the vehicle to get to the driver and render aid.

Meanwhile, others worked to remove the windshield so the victim could be removed by paramedics who arrived later. The four handled the situation so well that a deputy sheriff could concentrate on controlling traffic.

Rosalie Cota, Parole Service Associate, Calipatria State Prison

While driving to work, PSA Cota came upon a vehicle flipped on its side.

Upon reaching the vehicle, Rosalie saw one person, suspended by his seat belt, being smothered by the airbag. The injured man, a Correctional Sergeant, handed her his utility knife and she deflated the airbag.

The wreckage was mangled and compressed like an accordion, with limited space to move around. Rosalie was able to open the trunk and crawl in through the back of the vehicle, finally reaching the man.

She cut the seatbelt that was choking him and comforted him for 40 minutes until first responders arrived.

Kevin Mohrweis, Correctional Officer, Wasco State Prison, and Christopher Ponce, Correctional Officer, North Kern State Prison

Officer Mohrweis saw a Bakersfield Police Department cruiser lose control at an exit ramp and roll down an incline, coming to rest on its roof.

The driver of the car, a police officer, was hanging upside down in the wreck. Officer Ponce arrived on the scene soon afterward. Christopher crawled into the wrecked car and cut the officer’s seatbelt, allowing him and Kevin to remove the injured officer.

They both treated the police officer, who was bleeding heavily from a head injury.

Richard Russell, Correctional Counselor II, Supervisor

Andrew Pilati, Correctional Lieutenant, and

Michael Nord, Correctional Officer, all of Sierra Conservation Center

This three were on their way home from work when they saw that a car had gone over a barrier and about 30 feet down a steep embankment.

They moved down the embankment and found two elderly victims, one of whom was going in and out of consciousness. They kept the couple calm until first responders arrived.

Then they helped ambulance personnel put the victims on backboards and carry the backboards up the steep incline.

Daniel Kirk, Correctional Counselor II, Supervisor, Sierra Conservation Center

At a Board of Supervisors meeting, a man in the audience collapsed.

Mr. Kirk rushed to his aid with others. A bystander said the man had suffered a heart attack last year. Realizing the victim probably had another heard attack, Daniel grabbed a stand-by automated external defibrillator. The victim’s heart quit beating.

Daniel assembled the defibrillator and when indicated, gave the victim a controlled shock. Others then performed CPR. The victim’s heart started beating again and he was transported to a hospital.

Paul Ford, Parole Agent I, Stockton 2 Parole Unit

Traveling in Stockton, Agent Ford saw a homeless encampment on fire.

Paul helped one woman who suffered burns get to an ambulance. He began helping firefighters move people away from the burn area and then clear tents and other flammables from the fire area.

He and Stockton police moved more than 40 people to safety. Then Paul joined police in keeping a large crowd of onlookers from getting in the way of firefighters.

Antoinette Rossi, Licensed Vocational Nurse

Jashaun Banks, Correctional Officer

Karen Gladden, Registered Nurse

Laurie Thomas, Licensed Vocational Nurse; and

Stuart Lyons, Fire Captain, all of Avenal State Prison

In a team effort at the scene of a horrific accident, these six CDCR staff members were the first on the scene.

Both victims, who were CDCR officers, were trapped in their vehicles. When the team discovered one victim was deceased, they concentrated their efforts on freeing the other severely injured officer.

They succeeded and worked to stabilize him, keeping him from going into shock until he could be airlifted to a hospital.

Juan Gutierrez, Correctional Sergeant, and Alex Alva, Correctional Officer, both of Central California Women’s Facility

In Chowchilla, Sergeant Gutierrez and Officer Alva witnessed a recreational vehicle run a stop sign and collide with a truck.

The collision flipped the RV on its side and into a telephone pole while the truck rolled into a canal. Officer Alva rescued the truck driver and gave him first aid.

Sergeant Gutierrez saw that two of the RV passengers had been ejected and two were still trapped in the vehicle as it leaked gas. He cut the seatbelts off the trapped victims and pulled them to safety.

Help arrived, including a large response from CCWF, but the pair continued to aid the five victims until they were transported to the hospital.

Fred Moss, Correctional Officer, Central California Women’s Facility

A supposedly routine shopping trip for Officer Moss turned into a life-saving operation for a crime victim.

Near the register at a Fresno grocery outlet, he saw a woman on the floor, bleeding profusely. She was starting to lose consciousness. He grabbed rags and gloves, and ran to the victim.

Applying pressure to the wound, Fred stopped the bleeding. With his quick thinking and action, Fred probably saved the woman’s life.

Tim Orpurt, Correctional Sergeant, Sierra Conservation Center

Sergeant was taking a lunch break from helping family and friends brand calves.

Suddenly, a man stood up and appeared to be having trouble breathing. Tim asked if the man was choking. He nodded yes.

Employing the Heimlich maneuver, Tim was able to make the man spit out a large chunk of meat.

Mark Rosales, Correctional Sergeant at California State Prison, Los Angeles

Sergeant Rosales was returning from a gym workout, when he came across a traffic accident.

He immediately acted to help the victims. Mark began CPR on one of the victims and saw the man was wearing a CDCR uniform. He was a lieutenant Mark knew at California State Prison, Los Angeles.

Holding back his emotions, Mark continued CPR until paramedics arrived. But despite his heroic efforts, the victim later died at the hospital.

Samantha Lopez, Medical Assistant, and Maunish Sharma, Registered Nurse, both of Mule Creek State Prison

A severally injured motorcyclist on a lonely road owes his life to two CDCR medical personnel finding him as they drove between their homes and the prison.

The cyclist suffered two broken legs and arms and was bleeding. MA Lopez and RN Sharma immediately started treating the cyclist, who had been hit by a car.

Samantha used her shirt as a tourniquet while Maunish treated his other injuries. They stabilized the victim until help could arrive, likely saving his life.

Timothy Sanders, Correctional Lieutenant, California State Prison, Corcoran

CDCR folks are trained to keep their head in a crisis as Lieutenant Sanders proved last year.

On his way home, Lieutenant Sanders found a truck that had just wrecked. The most severely injured person was a woman who had been ejected.

While directing a bystander to call, Tim rolled the victim into the recovery position. Unable to determine if 911 had been called, he directed another bystander to call for help.

He also asked that another person canvass the area for other victims while he helped the severely injured woman until help arrived.