The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office would like to congratulate the three sheriff’s employees who were honored with the prestigious H.Thomas Guerry Award.
Deputies Ashley and Ellis and pilot Lore Courtney were honored with the award.
The honors were handed out at a ceremony held this week at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ Hearing Room. It was attended by personnel from local law enforcement agencies and local dignitaries as well as families and friends.
On Nov. 9, 2021, at approximately 4:53 p.m., deputies were dispatched to assist fire personnel with a structure fire in the 100 block of Orange Avenue in Goleta. It had been reported there was possibly someone trapped inside the building, after the deputies had been dispatched.
Deputies Ashley and Ellis were the first to arrive on scene. They were directed to the affected apartment by a neighbor, and they were able to see smoke coming from the apartment. The deputies made their way to the apartment and initially could not see inside due to the thick smoke.
Deputy Ellis attempted to look inside but was quickly overwhelmed by the smoke and pulled his head back outside. Deputy Ashley dropped to the ground and was able to see as there was a layer of clear air along the floor. He estimated the smoke was standing about one and a half feet off the floor, and he was able to see a woman down on the floor about 20 feet inside the apartment.
Deputy Ashley held his breath and crawled along the floor making his way to the woman.
When he arrived, he saw her clothing was on fire and she was unconscious. He patted the fire out on her clothing and began to pull her out of the apartment, crawling on his back and pulling her behind him.
When he was almost out of the building, Deputy Ashley took a breath and immediately felt the effects of the smoke and hot air from inside the apartment. He had difficulty breathing and started to get dizzy. Deputy Ellis stepped into the apartment and pulled both Deputy Ashley and the woman to safety outside the apartment.
Once at the street, deputies, Deputies Ashley and Ellis rendered aid to the woman until additional personnel arrived to assist. The woman was transported to Cottage Hospital and was later transported to a hospital in Los Angeles.
The woman is recovering from her injuries at a recovery hospital in the Los Angeles area.
If it was not for the quick thinking and immediate actions of these two sheriff’s deputies, it is doubtful that the woman would have survived the fire, according to a news release.
Sheriff’s Pilot Loren Courtney was honored for his performance for his extraordinary dedication to public service and his exemplary performance. Mr. Courtney is responsible for flying law enforcement, medevac, technical rescue and firefighting missions. He is tasked with maintaining proficiency in five different aircraft, each with their own capabilities. He works with four different crew chiefs, each with their own operational styles. In addition to the current fleet and crews, Mr. Courtney has been instrumental in the buildout process of the unit’s new Blackhawk helicopter.
In 2021, Mr. Courtney flew a total of 256.6 hours, totaling 71% of all flight hours in the unit. Those flight hours included 30 medivac transports, 28 hoist rescues, and the response to 38 vegetation fires resulting in 238 water drops.
Mr. Courtney launched 104 responses to law enforcement missions, including 27 vehicle pursuits, three foot pursuits and 35 crime-related searches, resulting in the apprehension of 35 suspects.
Mr. Courtney responded to 79 of these incidents after-hours.
In the news release, the Sheriff’s Office noted Mr. Courtney has shown exceptional loyalty and dedication to the Air Support Unit, to the fire service and law enforcement agencies that he flies in support of, and, most of all, to the people of Santa Barbara County.