NEWS RELEASE 20-098 - AUGUST 11, 2020
Left photo: Sergeant Matthew Tuggle and Deputy Brian Biegel with Sheriff Tom Knight.
Right photo: Case Manager Shelley Williams, Sergeant James Darby, Deputy JP Hernandez,
Deputy William Spitler, and Case Manager Leah Hayes with Sheriff Tom Knight.
Sheriff Tom Knight presented several awards during a ceremony Tuesday to recognize employees who demonstrated exemplary service to their community.
Sergeant Matthew Tuggle along with Deputies Brian Biegel and Christopher Indico (not pictured) received the Heroic Achievement Award for their efforts in helping the driver of an overturned vehicle engulfed in flames. On January 13, deputies responded to reports of a rollover crash on I-75 near mile marker 203. When the trio arrived on scene, they found a minivan on fire in the wooded median and tried to reach the sole occupant who was pinned inside. While assessing the elderly patient, deputies realized the vehicle was unstable and collectively braced it using only their bodyweight. When the Sarasota County Fire Department arrived, all three deputies continued to brace the vehicle until it was mechanically stabilized, and the driver could be removed. Sergeant Tuggle, Deputy Biegel, and Deputy Indico exhibited extraordinary heroism by approaching and bracing the vehicle, which was engulfed in flames, preventing further harm to the driver, and allowing him to be pulled to safety.
The Homeless Outreach Team received the Unit Citation Award for their exceptional efforts and accomplishments since their launch in June 2018. Last year alone, the Homeless Outreach Team introduced services to 584 new homeless individuals in Sarasota County. During initial contact with each person, the team explains and encourages participation in a wide range of services. The Homeless Outreach Team provides case management including establishing a housing plan, finding and maintaining a source of income, as well as obtaining substance abuse treatment and mental health evaluations. These services are made possible through partnerships with several community organizations such as Sarasota Housing Authority, Salvation Army, Resurrection House, First Step, Center of Hope, Harvest House, Streets of Paradise and many more. Through this collaborative effort, the unit has made an immeasurable positive impact on the local homeless community. Sergeant James Darby, Deputies William Spitler and JP Hernandez, along with Case Managers Leah Hayes and Shelley Williams are recognized for their outstanding acts to make Sarasota County a safe place to live, work and visit.
“This is a great day for our agency and for the Sarasota County community,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Whenever we get to recognize employees doing extraordinary things, it ignites morale and makes our community proud of the men and women who wear the uniform.”