WOW! Congratulations Tank!
Governor honors Ventura traffic officer for valor
By Timm Herdt, [email protected]
November 30, 2006
It was raining hard that January day, so Ventura traffic Officer Patrick "Tank" Sears had to leave his customary motorcycle in the garage and check out a cruiser instead.
Highway 101 was closed north of town, cars were being diverted onto city streets and traffic was a mess. Sears decided to head on up the freeway to try to find out when it might reopen. Then he saw a mountain of mud sliding down a hillside and burying homes in La Conchita. The traffic problems would have to wait.
Sears drove into La Conchita, jumped out of his car and looked for what he could do. Power lines were down, gas lines were broken, people were screaming. Before the day was over, 10 people would perish in the Jan. 10, 2005, tragedy.
"It was just panic there, pandemonium," he recalled. "It was shocking to see. It reminded me of 9/11. There were people buried and it was very traumatic. The thing I wanted to do was to get as many people as possible out of harm's way."
Sears saw people digging at a pile of rubble and joined in. Within minutes, they heard voices from below. Using their hands, Sears and the others dug through 20 feet of mud, tree limbs and debris to uncover two women, Nadine Bunn and Cherie Chako, from what might otherwise have been their graves.
Sears then stayed on the scene for several hours until firefighters, concerned that he did not have the proper gear to protect him from danger, ordered him to leave. "I was scared the whole time," he admitted. "I just wanted to get home to my family."
On Wednesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded Sears California's highest award for public safety officers, bestowing upon him one of just six Medals of Valor granted to police officers around the state for acts of heroism in 2005.
Schwarzenegger called the recipients "the finest of the finest" among public safety officers in the state. Marveling at the details of their acts, the governor said, "You think that these stories come right out of the movies. Let me tell you: There's a big difference between movie action heroes and real action heroes."
The medals were given out in ceremonies at the governor's office, where Sears was joined by his wife, Kelly, and daughter, Taylor.
The awards were established by legislation in 2003 that created a formal process through which local agencies submit nominations to the Attorney General's Office. The nominations are reviewed by a committee made up of representatives from all major public safety organizations in the state. The winners for 2005 were selected from 98 nominations.
Sears, a resident of Oxnard, has been with the Ventura Police Department for eight years. He said he believes that any law enforcement officer, if confronted with the same situation, would have responded the same way. "It's just something that we do," he said.
He continues to work traffic duty, and on dry days patrols the streets of Ventura on his motorcycle.
On Wednesday, Sears was feted as a hero. The rest of the time, he joked, "I'm the bad guy who gives out tickets."
WOW! Congratulations Tank!
Congratulations Tank. Way to go.
Right on, Tank! Way to go, congratulations.
I knew that ranger didn't know who he was messing with
Good on ya Tank!
that is freaking awesome, and your getting your boat redun in the same year? keep it up, you are doing something right.
What a wonderful honor ..... Congratulations!
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