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Governor's Lifesaving Awards & Sullivan Brothers' Awards

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2022 Governor's Lifesaving Awards & Sullivan Brothers' Awards 

Friday, March 3, 2023

10:00 AM - State Capitol Rotunda


View and download 2022 Awards Photos

View and download 2020/2021 Awards Photos


Photo of 2022 Governor's Lifesaving and Sullivan Brothers' Award Ceremony




2022 Governor's Lifesaving Award Recipients

Tom Flanery - Meritorious Service Award

Link to Tom Flanery

On the early morning of March 30, 2022, Tom Flanery was working on a West Des Moines streetlight in the bucket of his truck when he heard a crackling noise and saw flames coming from the attached garage of a nearby house. He immediately dialed 911 to alert the fire department, lowered his bucket, and ran to the home. Approaching the house, he could hear smoke alarms sounding inside, but could see no movement inside. Unwilling to assume the house was unoccupied, he began knocking on the doors and windows, and making as much racket as possible to awaken any potential residents. Because of Tom’s efforts, a sleeping family began to stir, and they and their pets were safely evacuated from the home. 

Kristin Albertson - Outstanding Service Award

On a cold Decorah day in December of 2021, a driver placed a frantic 911 call relaying they were trapped inside their vehicle with another occupant after sliding off an icy roadway into a body of water. About that same time, Kristin Albertson happened to be out walking with a friend when they came upon the crash. They found the car upside down with the passenger compartment completely submerged. The scene looked ominous but they could hear cries for help telling them occupants were still alive.

Kristin immediately entered the frigid water, but despite her best efforts was unsuccessful in trying to pry open the car’s doors. Nevertheless, she remained chest-deep in the icy water and provided constant comfort and assurance until first responders arrived. Upon mechanical extraction, the vehicle occupants were found unharmed and had managed to survive by finding a pocket of air inside the vehicle. 

Dan Pauley - Outstanding Service Award

Link to Dan Pauley

On October 9, 2021, near Guthrie Center, the sun was setting on a day of deer hunting for one Iowa hunter. But as he settled into his tree stand, he heard the snap of a tree branch and his world was immediately turned upside down. The stand broke away from the tree and fell 20 feet to the ground. In darkness and without the aid of his broken eyeglasses, the hunter struggled to find his phone and his only chance to seek help. Groping in the dark, he found his phone and was only able to call up his most recent contact and friend: Dan Pauley. 

Familiar with the area, Dan rushed to the scene, discovered his severely injured friend, and called 911.  EMS arrived and had to employ a UTV to rescue the hunter due to the rough terrain. Given the severity of his injuries, the hunter was Lifeflighted to a hospital where he received the emergency care he so desperately needed.  The recovery was long, but thanks to his friend, Dan Pauley, the hunter survived that disastrous day.

Brody Oberbroeckling - Lifesaving Award

Link to Brody Oberbroeckling

On March 13, 2022, in rural Colesburg, a UTV carrying three passengers flipped over while attempting to negotiate a turn. One occupant was immediately ejected while the other two became pinned under the UTV. One of the pinned passengers was able to free themselves, however, the second was hopelessly trapped. Nearby, Brody Oberbroeckling was riding his dirt bike when he heard the crash and rushed to assist the pinned passenger who by that time was having difficulty breathing.

Brody worked quickly to coordinate bystanders to manually lift the nearly 1,600-pound UTV just enough to allow the passenger’s chest to expand. Brody and the bystanders managed to keep the UTV elevated until more help arrived and it could be removed completely. The rescued passenger was taken to the hospital with multiple broken bones and internal injuries. 

Timica Shivers - Lifesaving Award

Link to Timica Shivers

On September 22, 2021, Timica Shivers was working as a dietary aide at a retirement community in Fort Dodge, when a resident began to choke while eating lunch. Timica quickly ran to the resident’s aid and performed the Heimlich maneuver several times until the resident’s airway was cleared.  Absent her immediate intervention given the community she serves, the outcome could have been deadly.

Cory Fleming (left), Richard Kopera - Lifesaving with Valor Award and Trisha Keim - Outstanding Service

Link to Fleming, Kopera, Kein

On July 9, 2021, an SUV was traveling along a highway east of Bloomfield when another vehicle backed out from an adjoining driveway. The vehicles collided, with the SUV veering into a ditch and striking a telephone pole. A damaged door trapped the driver as the SUV began to smolder. Cory Fleming was was first to reach the now burning SUV, but he could not pry open the damaged passenger door. Another passerby, Trisha Keim, stopped to offer assistance and focused her efforts on keeping the driver of the other vehicle seated and still until more help could arrive.

A third individual, Richard Kopera, also came upon the collision and immediately ran to the burning SUV. Richard and Cory, working together, came up with a plan to try to tear off the SUV’s door with a chain from Richard’s truck. Using only his hands, Cory was able to pull down part of the SUV’s window frame to attach one side of the chain to the door of the SUV. Richard then backed up his truck to the burning vehicle and secured the chain around his hitch.

The first attempt failed as flames started to reach the driver’s seat. Richard quickly repositioned his vehicle and attempted a more forceful run at jerking the door free. On the second attempt, Richard floored his vehicle, and the driver’s door broke free from its hinges. Richard and Cory rushed to pull the driver away from the vehicle just before the entire vehicle became fully engulfed in flames. 

Herbert "Runk" Wood - Lifesaving with Valor Award

Link to Herbert "Runk" Wood

On April 20, 2021, Runk Wood was driving to work when he noticed a distant fire near Council Bluffs. Getting closer, he saw a crashed vehicle quickly filling with flames. He saw car after car drive by the wreckage and immediately knew he could not be among those who simply turned a blind eye.  

Without regard for his own safety, he ran to the burning vehicle. The heat was intense and the flames burned Runk’s face as he pulled the driver from the vehicle and got them to a safe distance. It was at that point, Runk realized the driver was franticly pointing back at the car and it dawned on him that there was second person inside the burning vehicle. He raced back to the burning vehicle, found the second passenger, and pulled them to safety as well. 

Within seconds of pulling the second passenger free, the entire vehicle became fully engulfed in flames. First responders arrived soon after and the occupants were taken to the hospital for treatment. Runk suffered minor burns during his heroic rescue.

 2022 Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor Recipients 

Marshall County Deputy Ben Veren, Former Marshalltown Police Department Sergeant Casee Veren and Jacquelyn Bear - Outstanding Service Award

Link to Jacquelyn Bear and Vairen's

On the last day of 2021, off-duty Marshall County Sheriff Chief Deputy Ben Veren and former Marshalltown Police Sergeant Casee Veren, and their two young sons, were heading down Highway 330 to enjoy a hockey game in Des Moines.  A few miles apart on that same highway, citizen Jacquelyn Bear was driving northbound with her children when she witnessed a vehicle lose control, enter a steep embankment, strike a cement culvert head on, and overturn into an icy creek. She immediately dialed 911 and reported what she had witnessed.

Meanwhile, Chief Deputy Veren called the Marshall County Communications Center to report that road conditions were rapidly deteriorating from a light mist to "black ice” and learned they were less than a mile from the recently reported crash. Chief Deputy Veren knew on-duty first responders were miles away and the challenging conditions would severely hamper any response time. With that in mind, they made their way to the crash location and watched as a second vehicle lost control and nearly struck Ms. Bear.  

The vehicle then slid down the embankment and hit the same concrete culvert with such force that the rear-end extended vertically before overturning and coming to rest in the water beside the first. The Verens with help from an unidentified motorist wasted no time breaking through several inches of ice and wading through the waist-deep water to reach the vehicles. As precious minutes elapsed, they could not see, hear or reach anyone through the broken driver’s side window of the first vehicle.

They immediately moved to the second vehicle and worked with the assisting motorist to pry open a door just enough to reach in, feel something, and hear the driver begin screaming for help.  Chief Deputy Veren was able to pry the door open just wide enough for the assisting motorist to pull the driver through the opening. The driver emerged from the water gasping for air as former Sergeant Veren held his head above the water and dragged him to the bank.  Chief Deputy Veren and the assisting motorist immediately pushed back through the icy waters to the first vehicle and continued their efforts to find the occupant until rescue crews arrived. Despite the valiant efforts of the Verens, assisting bystanders, and first responders; the driver of the initial vehicle did not survive their injuries and exposure to the frigid waters. 

Iowa State Patrol District 10 Trooper Devin Brooks (left) and Trooper Boyd Eser

LInk to Trooper Brooks and Trooper Eser

Just after noon on July 1, 2021, in rural Blackhawk County, a vehicle traveling on Cedar Wapsie Road and another on North Raymond Road violently collided. Both vehicles came to rest in a ditch, and one immediately ignited. As luck or perhaps divine intervention would have it, Iowa State Patrol Troopers Devin Brooks and Boyd Eser were just a few miles behind the crash on their way back to their home post in Oelwein. There were no other first responders in the area and any response would have been precious minutes away.

As they approached the intersection, billowing smoke and the immediate danger jumped into focus.  Other assisting motorists had already managed to free the occupant from the lesser damaged vehicle and had broken out the rear passenger window in an attempt to free the occupants from the burning vehicle. Trooper Eser immediately grabbed his issued fire extinguisher to suppress the flames so Trooper Brooks could attempt to free the occupants.  Trooper Brooks crawled into the burning vehicle through the rear broken window and was able to pull the driver into the backseat. Trooper Eser and an assisting bystander were then able to pull the driver out of the back window and to safety.  

They then returned to burning car in an attempt the rescue the one remaining passenger.  The passenger was hopelessly pinned inside the vehicle, but Trooper Brooks continued to do everything in his power to free him.  Meanwhile, Trooper Eser and assisting bystanders expended seven fire extinguishers trying to keep the flames at bay but eventually the flames fully engulfed the passenger compartment and the rescuers were forced to retreat. One driver was treated for their injuries at a local hospital, while the other was Lifeflighted to University Hospitals in Iowa City. Tragically, the pinned passenger did not survive.  Troopers Brooks and Eser sustained smoke inhalation and suffered minor burns.


2020 & 2021 Governor's Lifesaving Award Recipients

Ashley Goering - Outstanding Service Award

On May 7, 2018, after observing a family member have a medical incident and becoming unresponsive, Ashley Goering of Grimes took immediate action to call 9-1-1 and began cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Due to her effective use of CPR, she ensured her loved one did not suffer any terminal or permanent damage until Emergency Medical Services arrived and took over. 

Jean Hessburg - Outstanding Service Award
Link to Jean Hessburg

On June 3, 2019, during a work luncheon, Jean Hessburg of Des Moines noticed a co-worker sitting at a nearby table. The co-worker appeared to be in distress and was having trouble breathing. Jean immediately knew the individual was choking, and quickly came to their aid by providing abdominal thrusts until her co-worker’s airway cleared.  

Larry Hoefer  – Outstanding Service Award
Link to Hoefer

On August 27, 2019, during a local dinner fundraiser, Larry Hoefer of Peosta noticed a nearby individual who appeared to be in distress and was having trouble breathing. Larry recognized that the individual was choking, and quickly came to their aid by providing abdominal thrusts and clearing the airway on the third attempt.

Courtney Nobiling – Outstanding Service Award
Link to Courtney Nobiling

On March 8, 2021, while providing instruction to students at West Ballard Elementary School, teacher Courtney Nobiling, noticed that a student appeared to be choking. Courtney quickly came to the student’s aid by using her hand on the individual’s back, providing light abdominal thrusts and clearing the student’s airway.  

Archie Jorgenson, Daniel Liddiard, Barry Nobles - Meritorious Service Award. Daniel Mathis - Lifesaving Award
Link to David Liddiard

Daniel Liddiard

Link to Daniel Mathis

Daniel Mathis

During the early morning hours of February 10, 2020, a restaurant in Waukon caught fire.  Daniel Mathis, Archie Jorgenson, Daniel Liddiard, and Barry Nobles saw the fire, stopped, and came to the aid of the residents of an apartment located above the restaurant. The residents, including two small children, were attempting to escape through the second floor window, but a longer ladder was needed. Daniel Mathis and Barry Nobles retrieved their work ladder, but it was not tall enough.  When Archie Jorgenson arrived, they used his taller work ladder to reach the residents.  While Archie Jorgenson, Daniel Liddiard, and Barry Nobles, aided from the ground, Daniel Mathis climbed the ladder, getting all of the residents and the family dog out of the apartment through the window.

Daniel Andringa - Lifesaving Award
Link to David Andringa

On January 18, 2020, while performing snow removal during blizzard conditions in Sheldon, David Andringa discovered an individual laying in the snow. The individual, having fallen and wearing only light clothing, had been laying in subzero temperatures and was suffering from frostbite. David’s observation, and quick actions to give the individual his coat and then move the individual to a warmer area until help could arrive, saved the individual’s life. David Andringa’s efforts are worthy of the Governor’s Lifesaving Award.

Calvin Grosvenor - Lifesaving Award
Link to Calvin Grosvenor

On May 28, 2020, while Calvin Grosvenor was assisting another scuba diver during a dive at Lake Okoboji, the diver suffered a medical issue 27 feet below the surface of the water. Calvin acted quickly to replace the air regulator and purged an injection of air into the distressed diver. He swam the unconscious individual 27 feet to the surface and then another 50 yards to the nearest dock. Calvin called for help and began CPR. When Emergency Medical Services arrived, a pulse was detected. 

Daniel Gutschenritter - Lifesaving Award
Link to Daniel Gutschenritter

On October 11, 2019, upon arriving home from work, Daniel Gutschenritter of Creston noticed smoke coming from a neighbor’s home and ran quickly to the residence. Two individuals were attempting to escape the home through separate windows. Daniel was advised by one of the residents that a family member was on the other side of the home. Daniel ran to the other side, broke out a window, and assisted that resident to safety.  He then back to the first resident and assisted them out of the burning home.  After the residents were safe, Daniel turned off the gas and electric to the home to prevent further damage.

Miriam & Richard Ludeke - Lifesaving Award
Link to Miriam and Richard Ludeke

On May 15, 2019, after witnessing a car crash in Carnes, Miriam and Richard Ludeke rushed to the assistance of a critically injured individual. They cleared the victim’s airway, stayed with the individual, and fought to control the loss of blood with items they had at their disposal, until emergency medical services arrived on scene.  

Chadwick Gillespie – Lifesaving Award
Link to Chadwick Gillespie

On February 12, 2020, a crashed vehicle during a blizzard in Madison County left an individual stranded in their overturned vehicle in subzero temperatures for approximately 15 hours.  Chadwick Gillespie, who was monitoring roadway conditions in the area, observed tire tracks leading out of sight from the roadway. Chad stopped and got on top of his truck so he could gain a higher vantage point.  When he did so, Chad could only see tires sticking up in the air. Upon investigation, he discovered an individual that had been reported missing by their family the previous night.  The individual was in critical condition.  Chad immediately contacted emergency services and stayed with the individual until they arrived.

Stephen Fettkether, Jason Hahn - Lifesaving with Valor

Link to Stephen Fettkether

Stephen Fettkether

Link to Jason Hahn

On April 5, 2021 a driver traveling in Cerro Gordo County went off the roadway and rolled their vehicle on its side. The vehicle caught fire in the engine compartment.  Jason Hahn came across the crash first and heard the driver screaming for help.  He grabbed a shovel from his vehicle to break out the window of the burning vehicle.  Stephen Fettkether stopped to assist and stayed with the driver as they hung from their seatbelt and the fire became more intense.  Jason Hahn retrieved a knife from his vehicle and with the assistance from Stephen Fettkether cut the seatbelt holding the driver.  The driver fell to the passenger side of the vehicle where they lost sight of the driver. With the fire now entering into the driver’s compartment, Jason Hahn reached inside, felt the driver, and pulled them out.  Stephen Fettkether and Jason Hahn pulled the driver to the opposite side of the road. The vehicle became fully engulfed by the time emergency personnel arrived.

Cameron Goodell - Lifesaving with Valor

Link to Cameron Goodell

On November 18, 2020, on Interstate 29 in Pottawattamie County, a driver left the roadway and struck a tree in the ditch. The vehicle immediately erupted into flames.   The flames quickly entered the passenger compartment and engulfed the dash of the truck. Cameron Goodell saw the vehicle on fire, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the burning vehicle. He opened the driver’s door and climbed into the vehicle over the incoherent driver to unbuckle the seatbelt. He then pulled the driver out of the burning vehicle and laid them down approximately 20 yards from the vehicle embankment.  He then returned to the vehicle to try to extinguish the fire but the vehicle became fully engulfed.  Cameron Goodell was able to talk to the individual and get a family phone number.

2020 & 2021 Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor Recipients


Jasper County Deputies Brad Sheeder, Corey Van Kooten 

Link to Greene County

On the evening of September 21st, 2019, Jasper County Deputies Brad Sheeder and Corey Van Kooten responded to a call at a farm cooperative just north of Newton. They arrived to find a distressed woman at the top of a towering metal grain bin threatening to jump.  The deputies requested assistance from area first responders – and then without hesitation – searched for a way to get to the top of the bin.  As they did so, Deputy Van Kooten noticed a pair of shoes near the stairs at the top of the 150-foot tall bin.  For context, that’s 14 stories high – or roughly the distance to the top of the water towers that dot our small towns. Deputy Sheeder, who struggles fiercely with a fear of heights, stifled that fear and propelled himself forward.  Both deputies scaled a series of ladders and catwalks to begin the delicate work of establishing rapport and calming down the despondent woman, who could have easily pulled them all to their deaths. Putting their own lives at risk and battling their own fears, the deputies were able to form a bond with the woman and after 20 minutes atop that bin, they convinced her to seek help and get back on solid ground. They then escorted the woman down the bin to safety.  

Greene County Deputy Shane Allen, Churdan Firefighter Nathaniel Byerly

Link to Greene County

On October 10, 2019 - during a torrential downpour - a motorist was making the 20-mile trek from Jefferson to her home in Paton.  Unfortunately, the weather was so severe that she lost control, entered a ditch, crossed a farm field, and became submerged up to the roofline in the swollen West Buttrick Creek.  The driver managed to crawl halfway out of her vehicle and cling desperately to the roof rack of her car.  Moments later, a passerby spotted the vehicle and called 911. Greene County Deputy Shane Allen and Churdan Firefighter Nathaniel Byerly arrived and threw an emergency rope line to the motorist. Although managing to momentarily grab the rope, the motorist was washed out of the vehicle and swept under the surface of the fast-moving current. Without regard for their personal safety, both Deputy Allen and Firefighter Byerly jumped into the cold water and swam out to the struggling motorist. Battling the force of the rising creek, these two first responders worked together to save the motorist and avoid a most certain drowning. 

Perry Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Brian Eiteman, Captain Andy Modlin, Lieutenant Joel Eiteman, Firefighter Izzy Baltazar, Firefighter Doug Harlan 

Link to Perry Fire and Resue

On April 20, 2020, Perry Fire and Rescue was dispatched to a residential house fire.  When the crew of engine 721P arrived on scene, the house was fully engulfed in flames along with a minivan and fifth wheel camper outside the home. The crew learned a wheelchair-bound person may be trapped inside. The interior crew immediately worked to suppress the fire and managed to locate the victim still alive. In an apparent attempt to escape through a rear door, the victim’s large stature had prevented his exit and caused to him to become completely wedged between the cabinets and appliances in the small galley-style kitchen of the home. Witnesses could see the roofline begin to sag suggesting an imminent collapse. The interior grew contemplated tearing out the cabinets and appliances but quickly recognized their efforts would have been futile. Despite a second dire warning that the roof was on the verge of collapse, the crew refused to leave. Pivoting to an alternate plan, these quick-thinking heroes fashioned a recovery tarp into a makeshift stretcher and drug the victim back though the entire interior of the home, out the front door and ultimately to safety.

Cerro Gordo Deputy Christopher Flatness, Deputy Zachary Scott, Deputy Matthew Smith, Devyn Brady, David Duncan, Christopher Fink 

Link to Cerro Gordo County

On the evening of November 15, 2019, Cerro Gordo Deputies Chris Flatness and Matt Smith were off-duty driving past the airport west of Mason City. Deputy Zach Scott and citizens Devyn Brady, David Duncan and Chris Fink were also traveling in the vicinity and responded when a violent head-on collision occurred in the westbound lane of Hwy. 122.  A wrong-way driver had struck another vehicle and died on impact. The other driver sustained severe injuries, was unconscious, and was trapped in the burning wreckage. Seconds after the crash, the deputies and citizens waded into that wreckage and worked frantically to open doors and break out windows without any protective equipment or proper tools.  By that time, flames had reached the interior of the cab making it extremely hot and creating a growing risk of explosion. Together, these courageous men manually pried open the passenger door. Witnesses described with awe the herculean strength it took to literally bend the passenger door back on its damaged hinges so as to create enough space to pull the victim to safety. Seconds later, the fire consumed the entire passenger compartment.  

Jewell Fire and Rescue Lieutenant David Sprague, Adam Woodle 

Link to Little Wall Lake-Jewell

On the morning of March 28th, 2021, five members of the Iowa State University Crew Club were practicing on Little Wall Lake in Hamilton County. Shortly after getting on the water, the winds picked up and began gusting over 30 mph. While trying to turn back, the team’s vessel entered rough water and capsized sending all of its members into the dangerous 42-degree water. Jewell Fire and Rescue Lieutenant David Sprague was alerted of the emergency and, as luck would have it, happened to live on the south shore of Little Wall Lake.  Lt. Sprague notified his neighbor Adam Woodle of the emergency and they immediately staged two dangerous rescue attempts by paddling their kayaks into the treacherous waters.  Drenched, fatigued, and battling the frigid waters; Mr. Woodle located one crew member, secured her to his kayak, and paddled her to safety.  As another drifted in and out of consciousness, Lt. Sprague spotted another drifting in and out of consciousness, got her secured in a life jacket, and towed her back to shore. The events that occurred on Little Wall Lake that day were undeniably tragic as two crew members lost their lives.  But that day was also marked by hope as one member was able to swim to shore and due to the valiant efforts of Lt. Sprague and Mr. Woodle two more were saved.

Awards Information

Governor's Lifesaving Award

The Governor's Lifesaving Awards Program was established in the 1970s to recognize Iowans who have performed a courageous act in an attempt to save someone's life or to those who have unselfishly assisted in an emergency situation.

There are four types of awards within the Governor's Lifesaving Awards Program:

Lifesaving with Valor - Awarded to those individuals who at the risk of their own life, attempted to save that of another individual.

Lifesaving - Awarded to those individuals who have attempted to save the life of another individual, but did not put their own life in jeopardy during the rescue.

Meritorious - Awarded to those individuals in recognition of courageous and unselfish service rendered during a time of distress.

Outstanding Service - presented to persons who have performed a courageous act in an attempt to save an individual who was in danger of losing his or her life or to individuals who unselfishly rendered service in a time of emergency.

Please visit the following links for more information concerning the Governor's Lifesaving Awards eligibility, nominating, and procedures:

| Eligibility | Nominating | Procedures |

Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor for Peace Officers and Firefighters

The Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor shall be awarded to peace officers and firefighters who, while serving in an official capacity, distinguished themselves by the performance of a heroic act in excess of normal demands of police or fire service where the person was fully aware of the threat to his/her personal safety. The origin of this award lies with five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa who enlisted and served together as sailors in the Navy in World War II. 

George, Frank, Joe, Matt and Albert Sullivan – all in their 20’s – served together on the USS Juneau in the Guadalcanal naval battle in the fall of 1942. All five brothers died together in a tragic attack when two Japanese torpedoes struck their ship. The Governor’s Award of Valor, originally established in 1977, was renamed the Sullivan Brothers' Award of Valor, in an effort to recognize the heroic efforts of First Responders. This award recognizes peace officers and firefighters, who while serving in an official capacity, distinguished themselves by the performance of heroic acts in excess of the normal demands of police or fire service. 

Please visit the following links for more information concerning the Governor's Lifesaving Awards eligibility, nominating, and procedures:

| Eligibility | Nominating | Commendation Committee | Contact Information | Historic Valor Award | Congressional Badge of Bravery |