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Delaware Department of
Human Resources


Delaware Award For Heroism


The Delaware Award for Heroism was established in 2013, award recipients are presented with certificates to recognize acts of heroism and courage.

Nominations will be accepted throughout the year. To be included in the May awards ceremony, Nominations for the award must be submited by February 28, 2019.


2018 Heroism Award Recipients


Ms. Bonniwell and Mr. McColley

While traveling on Rt. 1, Ms. Bonniwell and Mr. McColley witnessed a car hit an SUV, causing it to flip over three times, and pinning the driver inside.

Mr. McColley called 911 while Ms. Bonniwell ran over to the SUV. The driver's airbag had not deployed and there was gas leaking from the car.

Using an auger and a shovel they had in their DelDOT truck, and with help from other citizens who stopped to help, they were able to pull the driver safely out of the vehicle.

Mr. Douglass and Mr. Palsgrove

While assessing road conditions following a snow storm, Mr. Douglass and Mr. Palsgrove saw a man lying at the end of a driveway. Stopping to check on him, the man informed them that he could not remember what happened.

They called 911 and followed the operator's directions to keep him alert and awake. While waiting for the ambulance, they determined where he lived and were able to notify his wife. They continued to stay and talk with them both until the EMS arrived and took control of the scene.

Ms. Ray

Very early one morning this summer, Ms. Ray was going through the Route 1 Dover Toll Plaza, enroute to catch a plane, when she noticed the toll taker was slumped in her chair.

She got the attention of another toll taker in order to get access to the booth. As an EMT, she was able to assess the woman's condition, and instructed another employee to obtain a defibrillator. She used the device until Dover Police arrived, and she and the officer performed CPR until Paramedics arrived and assumed care of the patient.

Ms. Riddle

Ms. Riddle had just interviewed a Family Support Services client when she learned that the client had walked more than seven miles to the center. Ms. Riddle offered to give her a ride home. Upon arriving, she was very concerned about the state of the client's home, and she noticed the client looked ill.

Ms. Riddle contacted the Division of Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities to make a referral. They determined that the client's home was unlivable and the client was removed from the home and given necessary medical attention.


Probation and Parole Officers Shyers and Payton were conducting community home visits when they observed several people trying to get their attention. They looked and could see a male lying face down in the driveway next to and partially under a minivan.

The Officers contacted 911 and checked the man for responsiveness. When no pulse was detected, they began to perform CPR. The 911 operators continued to communicate with them and they continued to perform CPR until the emergency responders arrived and took over the care of the male.


Ms. Thornton was at work late one evening when she learned a coworker was found by the custodian, unresponsive and slumped over her desk. While the employee in the next office called 911, Ms. Thornton laid the employee on the floor.

With the guidance of the 911 operator, she checked for a pulse. Finding none, she applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used a defibrillator to determine if a shock was required. Ms. Thornton calmly applied CPR and worked to retrieve a pulse 3 times before the ambulance arrived.


This summer, Probation & Parole Officer Jessica Vorous, Correctional Officer Gabe Vorous, and their two children were headed on vacation with a family friend, when they came upon a vehicle that had crashed into a tree. Two men were trapped inside and the vehicle was on fire.

Jessica called 911 while daughter, Erin, attempted to douse the fire. Gabe was able to break the windows, and son Tyler was able to wrench the driver's side door open and pull the driver out. Both men were rescued just moments before the vehicle became engulfed in flames.


Senior Probation and Parole Officer Walker had been conducting an administrative search with Detectives from the Wilmington Police Department, when, upon leaving, an unidentified person directed gunfire towards the officers and Officer Walker was shot in the head.

Fellow officers immediately responded and provided cover for him. Once it was determined the immediate threat was over, first aid to Officer Walker was rendered and he was taken to the hospital for care.


Mr. Whitehouse was on his way back to the DelDOT maintenance yard when he noticed a stranded vehicle on the unlit, narrow shoulder of I-95 southbound south of Naaman's Road. Mr. Whitehouse realized that the family in the car was in a dangerous position.

Although he was off duty, he used his DelDOT truck to warn other drivers of the disabled vehicle and stayed with the family until they were picked up by a friend. He received an email from the family of those in the vehicle expressing great appreciation for his help.


The Howard R. Young Correctional Institute Team: Captain Patrick Sheets, Lt. Brian Forte, Officer Brian Dorrell, Officer Larry Welch, Lt. Bradford Apa, Lt. Benny Dotson, Officer Jesse Cohen, Officer Michael Dunston, Officer Jacob Stauber, and K9 Officer Spencer Alexander.

In October, a major motor vehicle accident occurred on 12th Street near the prison. Lt. Forte and Correctional Officer Stauber were assigned as Outside Patrol Units, and were the first to respond on the scene.

A car fire threatened, so they began pulling victims from the vehicles and getting them to safety. One victim was unconscious and unresponsive. Lt. Forte, Officer Stauber and Officer Dorrell began performing CPR.

The other officers here today quickly arrived and began assisting with securing the scene, closing off the immediate area, and redirecting civilian traffic away from the accident. Together with the emergency responders, they worked to pry open vehicle doors and save other victims.






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