BATAVIA — The people the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office honored during Friday’s annual awards for their response to the blizzard on Christmas weekend (Dec. 23-25) included Sheriff’s Office administrators and deputies, 911 Dispatch Center staff and snowmobile club members, additional county staff and snowmobile club members.
The blizzard inflicted sub-zero wind chill temperatures and blinding lake-effect snow that left numerous highways and roads impassable, the Sheriff’s Office noted. Multiple motorists were stranded in their vehicles for several hours and were not easily accessible by emergency first responders.
“Without hesitation for their own safety, these employees worked considerable additional hours to rescue motorists. Their brave actions that holiday weekend, undoubtedly, saved many lives,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “They are to be commended for their actions…”
Emergency Services Dispatcher Shelby M. Turner received a commendation for her actions. The blizzard generated over 3,200 total phone calls and 953 distinct calls for service, and gave Genesee County Emergency Services the busiest day in its history, the Sheriff’s Office said. Turner played a vital role in addressing the tremendous demands placed on the Dispatch Center during this event.
Also commended for their response were Undersheriff Bradley D. Mazur; Chief Deputy of Road Patrol Brian M. Frieday; Chief Deputy of the Criminal Investigations Division Joseph M. Graff; Sgts. Jason E. Saile, Andrew B. Hale, Michael J. Lute, Kyle D. Krzemien, Mathew J. Clor; Investigator Erik B. Andre; and Deputies Rachel M. Diehl, Jonathan M. Dimmig, Eric J. Meyer, Kyle J. Tower, Ryan W. Young, Zachary P. Hoy, Robert C. Henning, Morgan C. Ewert, Jeremy M. McClellan, Ryan J. Mullen, Travis M. DeMuth, Alexander R. Hadsall, James D. Stack, Carlos O. Ortiz Speed, Andrew Z. Mullen, Ayrton J. Blankenberg, Joshua A. Brabon, Jacob A. Kipler, Patrick J. Reeves, David D. Moore, Mason S. Schultz. Richard S. Schildwaster, Jordan M. Alejandro.
Deputy Kevin R. McCarthy assisted rescue efforts by operating his personal snowmobile to reach stranded motorists in their vehicles.
Commendations went to Director of Emergency Communications Francis A. Riccobono; Public Safety Systems Manager Justin T. Allen, Emergency Services Dispatchers Andrew K. Merkel, Samantha L. Conibear, Emily K. Young, Matthew F. Grimes, Stephen R. Smelski, Shaylene S. Kilner, Peggy D. Richardson, Kelly E. Smith, Cady E. Glor (part-time), Marie A. Vaughn (part-time); Senior Emergency Services Dispatchers Robert H. Tripp, Jason W. Holman, Michael T. Sheflin.
Emergency Services Dispatcher Nathan L. Fix, while off duty and in his capacity as vice-president of Genesee SnoPackers, played a crucial role in securing the use of its Tucker snow grooming machine that led a convoy of first responders to reach stranded motorists who had been in their vehicles for multiple hours, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Anita Cleveland, received a Certificate of Appreciation for welcoming a deputies who was stranded on the road in front of her house, along with two motorists that he previously rescued from their stranded vehicle, into her home where she provided comfort, food and shelter. Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Jeffrey R. Bartz opened the doors of Grace Baptist Church to multiple motorists who were stranded for several hours in their vehicles and once rescued were in need of a place to shelter until the blizzard passed and roads opened.
“Jeffrey Bartz, without hesitation, assisted with the opening of Grace Baptist Church as a warming shelter, and he and his wife spent the holiday weekend providing comfort, food and shelter to strangers in need,” the Sheriff’s Office said. Bartz received a certificate.
The Genesee SnoPackers received a certificate. They provided their Tucker snow grooming machine to lead a convoy of first responders to reach multiple stranded motorists. SnoPackers member Anthony Johnston, who received a certificate, volunteered his time to drive the Tucker, jeopardizing his own safety to assist patrols, the Sheriff’s Office said.
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