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Public safety personnel honored

By Staff | Nov 20, 2015

The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce After Hours event set for Thursday was also an opportunity to thank some of Lee County’s best and bravest as a Cape Coral firefighter, police officer and a pair of Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies were named the best of 2015 at a ceremony at FOS Furniture on Del Prado Boulevard.

More than 300 people were expected to attend the annual event that FOS owner Pat Corlew started in 2001 as a way to honor local first responders in the aftermath of 9-11.

“We needed to do something local for those who keep us safe. The way the world is today, we feel they put their lives on the line every day,” Corlew said. “We try to support the military and we want to support the local guys, too.”

Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Haines was named for his heroism on Dec. 15, 2014, during a traffic accident in which he saved the lives of two small children when he determined they were going into pediatric trauma.

Haines, who was officer in charge of Squad 8, rescued two young children, Chaylen Garcia, 8, and her sister Emerie, 5. Both were seriously injured after the van driven by their mother, Jessica Shipley was broadsided by a pickup truck that ran a stop sign at the corner of El Dorado Boulevard and Embers Parkway West.

Chaylen suffered a lacerated liver, broken clavicle, broken ribs, facial lacerations and a concussion and was sent to Lee Memorial Hospital before being airlifted to Tampa General.

Moments later, Emerie started to complain of abdominal pain. Haines and a paramedic determined the potential existed for another pediatric trauma alert and brought her to the hospital.

Days later, upon learning the children were going to be OK, Haines and his fellow first responders gave the family Christmas presents.

In March Haines was feted by the Moose Lodge as the District 25 Firefighter of the year for the same incident at about the same time as was promoted to Battalion Chief.

“Kevin is the kind of person who does a task right the first time. He works with the new guys and passes the legacy for what a good firefighter is,” said Battalion Chief Ryan Lamb. “He shows we can go the extra mile when it’s not an emergency to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Cape Coral Police detective Stephen Cragin was named top cop in Cape Coral for 2015 for his work in responding to a March 12, 2015 stalking complaint.

Cragin responded to an ongoing complaint. The suspect, who had been arrested previously for similar acts, attempted to contact the victim, so Cragin performed surveillance and awaited his attempt. The suspect showed up and was taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit.

What made the case unique was that Cragin took the victim’s car and drove to the location the suspect was supposed to meet the victim. The actions possibly saved the victim from harm.

“This is the perfect example of an officer who understands the level of fear that citizen has and is doing things that are outside the box to solve the problem,” Cosden said. “It’s a testament to his oath and taking to heart the concerns.”

Also named were Sgt. Janet Rincon and Deputy Christian Eriksen of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for their work in apprehending two armed suspects during a 2014 burglary of a Lehigh Acres home in which Rincon was forced to fire her weapon both inside the house and out as her life was in jeopardy.

The suspects all wore bulletproof vests and impersonated law enforcement, according to the police record.