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Sheriff’s Office announces annual awards

By Staff | Apr 1, 2010

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has announced its annual service awards in recognition of the outstanding efforts of certified law enforcement and corrections members, as well as civilian support and volunteers. The following employees have been commended for their achievements within the agency for 2009.

Deputy of the Year – James Divis (Bonita Springs Contract, Delta District)
On March 16, 2009, Deputy James Divis observed a white van driving without any headlights south on a dead end industrial access road towards Alico Road. Due to the suspicious circumstances, Divis conducted a traffic stop once the vehicle turned onto Alico Road.
Divis, who resides in Fort Myers, approached the driver’s side and began speaking with the driver. As this was occurring, Divis heard a male voice from the rear of the van. The voice was pleading for help and stating that they were going to kill him. Divis immediately called for back-up and secured the driver and the passenger. Upon opening the rear of the van, Divis saw a white male adult lying on the floor, beaten to the point of unconsciousness.
Investigation revealed that the victim and two suspects had been at the Ale House located in Gulf Coast Town Center earlier in the evening. The three subjects had been arguing and left the bar together in a van. The two suspects drove the victim to a nearby location and began to viciously beat him. At some point the suspects tied the victim’s feet together with an electrical cord and tied the other end to the trailer hitch of the van. The suspects then used the van to drag the victim for approximately 20 yards. The suspects then put the victim in the van against his will until he was found by Deputy Divis. It was also learned that the suspects had photographed the victim as they were beating him as the photos were found on a suspect’s digital camera. The suspects were subsequently arrested and charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery.
Thanks to Divis’ quick action and alertness, the victim in this case was rescued and transported to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Corrections Deputy of the Year – Brian Gadowry (Main Jail)
On Sept. 24, 2009, Deputy Brian Gadowry of Port Charlotte was fueling his personal vehicle. While paying for his gas he heard someone scream “fire.” He went to investigate and found a vehicle on fire beside his truck. Standing next to the burning vehicle were a woman and her two children. Gadowry escorted all three away from the burning vehicle to safety, before returning to the burning car and pushing it away from the gas pumps. He then retrieved a fire extinguisher from the gas station and extinguished the vehicle fire. After this was over, he purchased candy bars for the children on scene.
Deputy Gadowry’s quick thinking prevented a mother and her two children from being injured and kept a vehicle from exploding near gas pumps.

Civilian of the Year – Myra Simmons (Crime Analyst)
Myra Simmons is assigned to the Missing Persons Unit of Major Crimes. She has a keen interest in working older cases that have grown cold. One of those cases was the 1990 Verna Richardson missing person case. After 20 years, Richardson was still listed as a missing person but investigators have always believed that her boyfriend murdered her, although her body was never found. Simmons created a dossier on the Richardson case, enlisted the help of detectives and as a result, the boyfriend confessed to the crime.
Simmons lives in Fort Myers. Her dedication is truly an asset to the Major Crimes Unit.

Volunteer of the Year – John Grubb (VOICE Section)
Since joining our V.O.I.C.E. program in 2007, John Grubb of Lehigh Acres has volunteered over 2,500 hours. He has completed a record-breaking number of area/house/vacation checks by an individual. So far for this year he has completed 3,305 area checks, 5,183 construction site checks and 372 vacation house checks. Grubb served our country in the Marine Corps for more than 25 years and is now serving the citizens of Lee County and we proudly name him as our Volunteer of the Year.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is proud to recognize all the individuals listed above for their hard work and dedication.