Sheriff Knight Holds Awards Ceremony

NEWS RELEASE 20-149 - DECEMBER 14, 2020

Sheriff Tom Knight presented several awards during a ceremony Monday to recognize employees who demonstrated exemplary service to their community.
Deputy Joaquin Fernandez received the Life Saving Award for his efforts to save the life of a woman who overdosed on heroin. Deputy Fernandez responded to an Englewood home where he found the patient in the driveway without a pulse and immediately rendered aid. He deployed two doses of his agency-issued naloxone and began performing CPR. The woman eventually regained a pulse and began breathing again before paramedics arrived. If not for Deputy Fernandez’s quick actions, the victim would likely not have survived.
Deputies Leonard Weg and Taylor Morgan are presented with the Life Saving Award for their efforts in successfully bringing a man back to life after suffering a heart attack. Deputies responded to a Venice home for a patient in cardiac arrest. When they arrived, they found the man unconscious on the floor with his wife performing CPR. Both deputies took over rendering aid until he began breathing. When they noticed the patient once again stopped breathing, Deputies Weg and Morgan resumed life-saving measures until paramedics arrived and took over. The patient eventually began breathing on his own before he was transported to the hospital. Had it not been for the continued resuscitation efforts performed by Deputy Weg and Deputy Morgan, the man would not have likely survived.
Deputy Lynda Morris and Deputy Desire Perry received the Life Saving Award for their efforts to resuscitate a woman who experienced an overdose. Deputies responded to an unresponsive female who was found slumped over the bench at a SCAT bus station is Sarasota. Deputies Morris and Perry lowered the woman to the ground and found no pulse. The victim was not breathing, and her lips were blue. Both deputies administered naloxone before Deputy Morris initiated life-saving measures by performing CPR for approximately six minutes until paramedics arrived on the scene. The victim began showing signs of recovery and became fully responsive as she was placed in the ambulance. Upon further search, deputies located a syringe and small baggie with a white powdery substance. Paramedics agreed that the actions of both deputies on scene aided in the preservation of the victim’s life.
Deputy Mark Eve is presented with the Life Saving Award for his efforts to rescue a 14-year-old child who was struck by lightning on Siesta Key Beach. On July 16, as the child was exiting the beach, he was struck in chest by a bolt of lightning, which was shown by a burn hole in the t-shirt he was wearing. The victim immediately became unresponsive and collapsed on the beach. Agent Luis Perez of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was walking nearby when he saw the victim on the ground and rushed to his aide. Agent Perez said when he got to the victim, he had a pulse but was unresponsive. Perez began to perform CPR on the child until Deputy Mark Eve arrived and took over CPR efforts. Paramedics arrived and transported the victim to the hospital. The quick action of Agent Perez to rely upon his training, assess the victim and begin life-saving resuscitation measures, were essential to the victim’s survival. Deputy Eve's quick response time and ability to take over life-saving efforts from Agent Perez, were also essential to the situation. Special Agent Luis Perez, who was unable to attend Monday’s ceremony, is recognized with a Certificate of Recognition.
Deputies Michael Nickerson, Troy Stonebraker and Trey Sinatro are presented the Life Saving Award for their efforts to revive a man following his attempt to commit suicide. Deputies were dispatched to a shopping corridor in the Venice area to locate a man who reportedly took 40 oxytocins to end his life. The North Port Police Department requested the sheriff’s office assistance in locating the man who was reportedly parked in the shopping center. Deputy Nickerson found the man in his vehicle and opened the driver’s door to find the man without a pulse. Deputy Nickerson pulled the man from the vehicle and immediately began chest compressions while Deputy Stonebraker retrieved his agency-issued naloxone and administered a dose. Deputy Sinatro arrived and administered a second dose of naloxone. Shortly after, the man started gasping for air. Paramedics soon arrived and continued to provide advanced life support. The man was transported to the hospital to receive follow-up treatment, where he survived thanks to the life-saving efforts of all three deputies.
Court Services Sergeants Donald Bennett, Raymond White, Robert Zielinski, and Eleni Koenig received the Meritorious Achievement Award for their efforts to adopt new technology to create virtual courtroom procedures during the global pandemic. In March 2020, in response to the growing public health emergency posed by COVID-19, all in-person court hearings were eliminated. In response, the sergeants collaborated with judges and court administration personnel along with the sheriff’s office IT and AFIS Units to set up a secure network infrastructure and the equipment necessary to conduct remote digital hearings from within the Sarasota County Correctional Facility. These accommodations included virtual courtrooms, digital fingerprinting, and mobile computer kiosks for isolation housing. Sergeants Bennett, White, Zielinski, and Koenig not only trained court deputies to operate within the Correctional Facility environment but also completed pretrial release paperwork in the absence of court administration personnel onsite. It is through their innovation and dedication that these four members were able to protect the criminal justice institution against the consequences of the global pandemic.
Lieutenant Adam Kaskey, Sergeants Mark Lefebvre and Diana Darby, along with Detectives David Tuck, Mark Micale, Carlos Verdoni, and Chad McDonald are recognized with the Meritorious Achievement Award for their recent work as members of the Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) Team. Outside of their normal job requirements within the Criminal Investigations Section, these supervisors and detectives are responsible for investigating all shootings involving sheriff’s office personnel as well as members of the North Port, Venice, and Longboat Key Police Departments. Since December 2019, the OIS Team has investigated three such shooting incidents, two involving sheriff’s office deputies and one involving officers with the North Port Police Department. Additionally, the team developed a training presentation in late 2019 outlining investigative procedures and deputy expectations during officer involved shootings. As a result, OIS team members instructed 22 individual classes over 11 weeks during the 2020 spring law enforcement in-service training cycle. With their outstanding work ethic, professionalism and transparency, the members of the OIS Team exemplify the agency’s values and standards for public service.
“While I am always proud to be part of these award ceremonies, I am especially proud of the men and women we honored today,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Keeping in line with our values and commitment to public safety, each of them embodies exactly what it means to serve with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.”