For a second, she felt a tinge of panic.
But the deputy, a former EMT, stayed focused on the critical task at hand:
Get the severely injured driver out of the car before flames engulfed it.
So OCSD Deputy Lisa Dolan kept at it as her partner, Deputy Kristyn Ellis, tended to the child she helped extricate, along with Dolan and two bystanders, from the passenger side of the car.
Dolan and Ellis were on duty but wearing gym clothes as they were traveling in an OCSD Recruiting vehicle northbound on the 5 Freeway when they happened upon the damaged vehicle, which had struck a big-rig truck, on July 20, 2018.
For their efforts, they were honored, along with 16 other OCSD personnel, with a Medal of Lifesaving at the OCSD’s 31st annual Medal of Valor ceremony on April 11.
Three others received the Medal of Courage, four received a Medal of Merit, and Investigator Craig Goldsmith received the prestigious Distinguished Deputy Award.
In addition, Sheriff Don Barnes gave a Sheriff’s Award to Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy and OCFA Deputy Chief Dave Anderson.
“It’s my favorite day,” Barnes said in an interview prior to the event, held at the Hotel Irvine. “I’ve been involved with it the decades. It’s the one time of year where we have an opportunity to recognize (special acts).
“We take it very seriously. There are a lot of applications and recommendations for these awards, including a vetting process, and the people standing here today on the stage are all deserving and make us very proud.”
With every second critical, Dolan felt the twinge of panic when the motorist, a father whose son was recued from the car, came to and gazed up at her.
“He was just looking at me with blood coming out of his mouth, saying, ‘I’m stuck, I’m stuck,’” Dolan recalled in an interview before the luncheon.
“Ok, but I need you to help me,” Dolan said.
“I can’t. I can’t.”
Dolan took a breath and dug an arm behind his back. The steering wheel had pinned him in.
“I literally dug it in as far as I could and hooked under his armpit,” Dolan said. “I put both of my legs on the side of the car. I was off the ground, and I just pulled as hard as I could.”
Dolan felt backward onto the pavement, the man on top of her.
Just then, a fire crew that happened to be coming from Northern California appeared as if on cue to extinguish the flames.
The father and son were airlifted to a hospital and survived – thanks to Dolan and Ellis.
The two, with cuts on their hands and arms and blood and oil all over them, eventually walked into a Starbuck to change.
They eventually learned through social media who the man’s wife was.
She thanked the deputies, calling them her “two blonde angels.”
Sgt. Kristopher Kiltz, a Medal of Courage recipient, was in street clothes after just getting off duty at the jail in Santa Ana when he saw something unusual:
A deputy patrol unit with the back door open and a man standing beside it in black.
It was around 6 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2018.
Kiltz initially didn’t see the deputy, but then saw her on the ground. The man was standing over her choking her with his handcuffs.
While in the back of the patrol car, he had managed to move the handcuffs from behind to the front, and he attacked the deputy when she opened the back door to escort him to booking.
“I knew the deputy was getting attacked,” Kiltz recalled. “So I dropped my stuff and ran and tackled the guy and held him down.”
The female deputy held his legs down as the two called for help. Deputies poured into the parking lot and took the perp into custody.
“She ‘stayed in the game’ but was shaken up,” Kiltz, a 17-year veteran of the OCSD who was an LAPD officer for six years before that, said of the deputy. “I was glad I was there to be able to help her out.
“By the grace of God, I just happened to be walking out.”
Kiltz, like every other recipient interviewed, said he’s just humbled to be recognized at the Medal of Valor ceremony.
“I don’t expect to be honored,” he said. “It’s just what we signed up to do. That’s part of it. Things happen.”
In comments at the end of the ceremony, Barnes said the honorees “make it clear just how great a department we have.”
Added the sheriff: “We all know that a career in law enforcement can be demanding and stressful. As one who has been in this business for 30 years, I can tell you the nature of work has only gotten harder and more complex…With all this, the members of this department still come to work each day to serve the public, oftentimes under difficult circumstances.
“They proudly wear the badge or professional staff ID. Each of them know there’s a great reward to serving the public, helping your neighbor, and contributing to a safer Orange County, and that is what this ceremony is all about.”
Here is the complete list of honorees, with photos:
MEDAL FOR LIFESAVING
Deputy Daniel Merz and Deputy Richard Broadhead
Rescued suicidal woman who was drowning off the Dana Point Harbor Pier
Deputy Mark Van De Kreeke
Performed life-saving measures on a female stabbing victim in San Juan Capistrano
Deputy Jeremy Buraglia and Deputy Kyle Pickard
Performed lifesaving CPR on a man in Tustin
Deputy Daniel Douthitt and Deputy Patrick White
Performed lifesaving CPR on a woman found hanging in a tree in Lake Forest
Sheriff’s Special Officer Troy Chavers
Prevented suicide attempt from second-floor of interior of an office building in Tustin while off duty
Deputy Brenden Billinger
Performed advanced lifesaving techniques on a baby found in a pool in South Orange County
Deputy Kristyn Ellis and Deputy Lisa Dolan
Rescued severely injured motorist from car on fire on the 5 Freeway
Deputy Kyle Bilton and Deputy Nathan Rivas
Performed lifesaving measures on a stabbing victim in Mission Viejo
Deputy Cody Eversgerd, Deputy Virl Jones, Deputy Michael Kruggel
Prevented suicide attempt at the Intake and Release Center (IRC) in Santa Ana
Deputy Matthew Stafford and Deputy Rodney Elcock
Performed lifesaving CPR on an elderly woman who was choking
MEDAL FOR MERIT
Supervising Radio Dispatcher Cathy Borchardt
Implemented text-to-911 system to dispatch centers throughout the county
Supervising Communications Coordinator Derek Gard
For taking the initiative with the Emergency Management Division to improve public alert protocols, as well as his overall communications expertise
Investigator Jeffrey Jacques and Investigator Alain Sirgy
For their excellent work on the Cyber Crimes Detail
MEDAL FOR COURAGE
Deputy Ryan Root
Rescued a severely injured person in Dana Point Harbor. A man was being crushed by his sailboat against rocks and was in jeopardy of drowning
Sgt. Kristopher Kiltz
Rescued deputy being attacked in the secured parking lot at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana. An arrestee had managed to get his handcuffs in front of his body and was choking the female deputy who had arrested him.
Correctional Services Technician Jason Luong
Rescued two deputies from being attacked in the Central Men’s Jail by deploying pepper spray on several inmates
DISTINGUISHED DEPUTY MEDAL
Investigator Craig Goldsmith
The 29-year-veteran of the OCSD was honored for, among other things, his work on the Computer Forensics Detail, his work in the jails, serving as a School Resource Officer (SRO) in Dana Point, as well as working economic crimes, doing background investigations on prospective OCSD employees, and working major fraud investigations.