The Gold Star medal is awarded for heroic deeds under extraordinary circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of immediate peril in acting to save the life of another person.
Gold Star Recipient:
Stephen Leach, Correctional Officer, California Health Care Facility
Officer Leach was off duty and heading home on January 14, 2021, when he witnessed a blue sedan cut off a black sedan while sitting at a stoplight in Stockton. The two cars collided and the black car crashed through a brick wall into a garage connected to a house.
Officer Leach safely parked his car and rushed to the scene. There were smoke and flames coming from the car and four teenagers trapped inside screaming and crying for help. The car was heavily damaged and covered with debris.
Officer Leach first pulled the driver from the car and had him sit on the curb. He then grabbed a girl from the back seat who was bleeding from her face and suffering from what appeared to be a broken leg, and laid her on the grass.
He returned to the car to grab another girl from the back seat and assisted her to the curb. The fourth victim, another girl, was trying to crawl out of the vehicle. Officer Leach also placed her at a safe distance from the car. All four teenagers appeared to be suffering from concussions and Officer Leach remained with them until the Stockton Police Department and firefighters arrived.
There were several people taking video of the accident, but no one came forward to offer any assistance during Officer Leach’s rescue efforts. The Stockton Police Department credited Officer Leach with making a huge difference in keeping things calm and safe.
Officer Stephen Leach also received the Silver Star at the 2020 Medal of Valor ceremony for saving two people who had been in a car accident in June 2019. He again bravely and selflessly put himself in harm’s way to save the lives of four young people.