Red Cross honors Pierce County heroes

Staff writerOctober 23, 2013 

Every year, the American Red Cross honors a handful of heroes who helped others or saved a life “regardless of personal risks and always without thought of reward.”

The following were presented awards Wednesday at the 20th annual Pierce County Heroes Breakfast:

STAFF SGT. MARCUS TAYLOR, MILITARY HERO AWARD

Shortly after the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier returned home to Lakewood from his fifth deployment to Afghanistan, he awoke in the middle of the night July 15 to the sound of children screaming.

Taylor saw a nearby apartment building burning and rushed to help a couple trapped on the second floor.

The stairs were thick with smoke and flames, so he climbed up the back of the building to the couple’s balcony and kicked in the sliding glass door. Taylor then told the couple to follow the sound of his voice outside so he could help them climb down.

Four apartments were destroyed and 19 people were displaced, but nobody was hurt.

DR. MARY HOAGLAND-SCHER, COMPASSION IN ACTION AWARD

The physician works as medical director at Tacoma-based RotaCare Free Clinic, which offers free or low-cost treatment to those with chronic illnesses.

Hoagland-Scher, who volunteers her time, created the protocol for people who can’t afford medicine for their illness or don’t have health insurance.

The clinic serves about 15 people each week.

SAPA DOIRON, JORDAN JOHNSON, LUIS ROGUE, J SLAUGHTER AND DORSHAWN SUTTLE, STAR OF COURAGE AWARD

A group of teenage boys were playing basketball June 11 at a Lakewood church when a man having a heart attack fell to the ground.

Slaughter ran outside to call 911 while the other boys took turns performing CPR on the man until paramedics arrived. As the man was taken to a hospital, the boys gathered in the center of the court to pray for him.

Although the man suffered five broken ribs from the CPR, he said it’s a small price to pay for them saving his life.

TRACY WHITE, WATER RESCUE AWARD

The nurse was at Steele Lake Park in Federal Way on June 14 with her young daughter for a day of swimming and relaxing. As she sat on the shoreline, she noticed the hands of a 5-year-old waving above the surface of the water.

Still in her sundress, White dove in and swam to where the child was flailing. His body went limp and slipped beneath the water as she approached.

White kept diving until she felt the boy’s arm and pulled him to safety.

STAFF SGT. ANGELO FIGUEROA AND KRISTINE FIGUEROA, GOOD SAMARITAN AWARD

The Puyallup couple was driving to a movie June 26 when they saw a car hit a utility pole after the driver suffered a seizure.

Angelo Figueroa pulled the driver from the car and left him with a nurse who had also stopped, then pulled two crying babies from the back seat.

Kristine Figueroa comforted the children while her husband helped a passenger out of the front seat.

CHLOE CLARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN DUPONT, COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY AWARD

Since a major earthquake shook Haiti in 2002, the school has raised more than $11,000 for the American Red Cross relief fund by holding penny drives and selling baked goods.

The idea started with second-grade teacher Mike Slater and quickly spread to all grades.

A girl saving to buy a keyboard instead donated the money. Students went door-to-door collecting donations. Others baked cookies.

MICHAEL BAKER, SHARON CARLSON, KEVIN HORNBECK, JULIE MYER, JEROME VELOSKY AND JEFF VERNON, WILDERNESS RESCUE AWARD

The group of Tacoma Mountaineers was climbing the East Ridge of Ingalls Peak in the north Cascades during a storm June 16, 2012, when they saw a pair of climbers turn back. On their return from the summit, the group found one of the men near hypothermia after banging his hip on a rock while rappelling.

Knowing that a search and rescue crew couldn’t get to the men until morning, four of the Mountaineers belayed the injured man down 1,500 feet while Myer and Vernon hiked down to retrieve a sleeping bag and tent for the men.

TONY AND BRYCE SMITHLIN, FAMILY RESCUE AWARD

As Bryce, 9, sat cuddling with his mom on the couch of their Puyallup home Dec. 15, she suffered a heart episode that rendered her unable to move.

The boy raced to get his father, called 911 and held the phone to his dad’s ear while a dispatcher gave instructions on how to perform CPR. Bryce then ran outside to direct in paramedics.

Throughout the episode, Bryce told his father they would be all right and talked to his mother. The boy told her he loved her and that if she needed to go “it’s OK.”

His mother, Kyra, eventually stabilized and underwent surgery for a heart disease she didn’t know she had.

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