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Sheriffs Office honors deputies, hero citizens

WEB ONLY: Honorees include participants in Sandy/mountain area rescues

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office honored deputies and citizen heroes with Public Service and Distinguished Service awards during its 25th annual awards banquet Saturday, March 17, at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion in North Portland.

Sheriff's-deputy honorees included:

Non-sworn Sheriff's Employee of the Year: Al Jacobs, Food Services.

Services Deputy Sheriff of the Year: Detective Geary Hellman.

Corrections Deputy Sheriff of the Year: Bryan Koppert.

Lynn Forristall Award: Deputy Sheriff of the Year: Karen Moss.

Among the seven citizen honorees were two groups and one individual whose lifesaving and meritorious actions affected the Sandy/Mount Hood area. They were:

Distinguished Service Award: Pat Moran

On June 25, four young girls ages 12 to 17 were wading in Roslyn Lake north of Sandy on a sandbar. Suddenly, all four stepped off a shelf into water over their heads. None of the girls could swim, and none were wearing life jackets.

Three were saved, thanks to the tireless efforts of Pat Moran.

Moran was on the sandbar with his family when he saw the girls in the water, waving for help as they were pulled into deep water by the current.

He swam out and pulled two of them to his sister, Alicia Biver.

Then he swam out again, pulling a third girl to shore when she was too panicked to grab a life vest thrown to her by a boater. After bringing the third girl ashore, Moran swam out yet again - diving in an effort to find the last swimmer.

In his nomination letter, Sheriff's Marine Patrol Sgt. Graham Phalen wrote: 'Without Mr. Moran's valor and persistence, the three young girls would not be alive today … He worked to the point of exhaustion to find the fourth victim, and put the welfare of four young girls ahead of his own quite selflessly.'

Public Service Award: Mountain Wave Communications Group

When three climbers went missing in December 2006, the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team went into action. The search for Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry 'Nikko' Cooke went on for a week in brutal conditions, and the sheriff's office knew it could count on Mountain Wave Communications Group to help.

Mountain Wave Communications is an all-volunteer, non-profit resource group. They specialize in technical communications. And they gave more than 4,000 hours of their time to search-and-rescue efforts in 2006.

Mountain Wave provided technical support for the entire mission on Mount Hood - including working with the cell-phone company to more closely map the location of the missing climbers. Their research narrowed the potential location of Kelly James' cell phone. This allowed rescue workers to narrow their search area and find James' body.

In his nomination letter, Lt. R.E. Lowe refers to Mountain Wave's service as a 'communications lifeline … that no other resource group has been able to provide as professionally or efficiently.'

Public Service Award: Portland Mountain Rescue

During that same December rescue mission, the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team also knew it could count on another group of volunteers: the men and women of Portland Mountain Rescue.

PMR volunteers specialize in search-and-rescue operations involving high-angle rock, ice and snow. Their expertise also comes in handy in mountainous and backcountry terrain, and they're leaders in promoting outdoor safety - thanks to their lectures, classes and seminars. They volunteered more than 3,000 hours in 2006.

During the search for three missing climbers on Mount Hood, the men and women of PMR put their lives and careers on hold to provide non-stop mission support. It was a dangerous search that attracted international attention.

But as Lt. Lowe put it in his nomination letter: 'The efforts of PMR members during this operation are best defined as heroic…. Without their commitment and support, rescue operations in Clackamas County and other jurisdictions would suffer dramatically.'

Jim Strovink is the spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office