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Local couples among heroes honored by Red Cross
MARYSVILLE When Don Whitfield sat at a Red Cross banquet for local heroes last December, he didnt suspect that he would soon be one.
When the Marysville man, his wife Debbie and two neighbors were returning from a movie outing a year ago, they saw a Snohomish County Sheriffs deputy struggling with a man on the pavement of a State Avenue parking lot.
Seeing the deputy on the bottom wasnt right and so Whitfield and Gregg Famelos pulled the suspect off of deputy Rebecca Lewis while their wives Debbie and Kathy tended to her wounds. The officer sustained a broken nose and other injuries and to this day is extremely grateful for their help.
For their actions they were selected as Real Heroes by the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross. They will be honored at a banquet in December, the same banquet Whitfield attended last year. This time he and his friends will be on the dais.
Its one of those interesting twists of life, Whitfield said. Were, of course, very honored by it.
Like the heroes he had listened to, Whitfield said his actions that night were what anybody else would do. Neither he or his companions considered what might happen to themselves, they just saw what had to be done and did it, Whitfield said.
It was just a situation where you know you have do to something and theres not anytime to think about, he said.
Kay Ashenfelter is the director of development for the Red Cross chapter and she said the foursome were exactly what the organization looks for when selecting local heroes.
Its very difficult to make them, but we looked for people who did something outstanding and who put themselves on the line to help someone else, Ashenfelter said. We had a significant number of nominees.
For Lewis the foursomes actions were both courageous and daring, and the four-year veteran said she was glad they stepped in to pull the suspect off of her.
Its a risk for anybody to act in a situation, and they took that risk on and Im extremely thankful for that, Lewis said. Anytime citizens help officers its a blessing.
She was quick to point out that the legal process didnt end after that incident, and there are now appeals that limit what Lewis can say until things are finalized by the courts.
I wish I could express more gratitude, Lewis said.
Other heroes selected include Marysville resident Trapper Brandenburger, who was working on a roof of a house when he heard an explosion inside the garage. Rushing into the breech the former Marine tended to severe wounds suffered by resident Alvie Kronbeck, disregarding his own safety and potentially saving Kronbecks life.
Other honorees include Jason Stotler, an off-duty firefighter from east King County who rescued a sleeping man from a burning house; police officer Andy Bass who continued to assist fellow officers in subduing a suspect after being slashed in the face and arm; and Stephen Hagberg, an emergency volunteer who helped hundreds of callers during last years floods.
Most ironic of all had to be 14-year-old Benjamin Larkin, who quickly saved his swimming partner during a life-saving exercise. Larkin was playing the victim during a pretend drowning where his older partner was supposed to be pulling him to safety. But the 18-year-old man had a seizure and lost consciousness. Larkin struggled to keep the larger mans head above water and pulled him to the side of the pool and held him there until help arrived.
These and others heroes will be honored at the 12th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast Dec. 6, from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m., at the Everett Events Center grand ballroom.