Chamber honors first responders
The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral usually hold its after-hours events as a way for business members to network, have a few drinks and enjoy themselves.
Thursday, the chamber devoted the event to the very best first responders in the city, with an Officer of the Year event at FOS Furniture.
More than 250 people came to see awards presented to members of the Cape Coral Police and Fire departments as well as for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to go along with the food, beverages and door prizes.
Pat Corlew, owner of FOS Furniture, started the event in 2002 as a way to recognize the people who help keep the city safe every day.
“Every day they’re out there doing dangerous jobs and we try to let them know we appreciate them,” Corlew said. “It’s near Thanksgiving, and we have a lot to be thankful for. We invite their families and it’s neat for kids to see their dad get an award.”
The winners this year were Chad Johnson and Trevor Gant of the CCFD, Charles Caruso of the CCPD and Det. John Lathrop of the LCSO.
Johnson and Gant were cited for their work in rescuing a person who was bedridden during an early-morning housefire by carrying him out an open window with the help of other first responders.
Lathrop earned his award for his work as lead investigator in a fatal 2016 shooting of Fritz Timmerman in the Pine Manor section of Fort Myers that led to the arrest of the accused assailant, Dalvon Lawrence.
Lawrence was convicted of negligent homicide and a weapons offense in August.
Caruso earned his award while off-duty, working to rescue a woman who was trapped in her car following a late-evening accident in Charlotte County.
Sadly, the woman did not survive, but the heroism of Caruso earned him a Meritorious Service Award in Charlotte County.
Corlew said he plans to continue this as long as he can.
“The world is pretty crazy right now. It seems like every time we turn around, they don’t know what’s on the other side of the door,” Corlew said. “They want to serve the public and we want to let them know we care.”
Honores, meanwhile, emphasized that their efforts were team efforts.
“We did it together. It was definitely a group effort. It’s an honor to receive this award with him,” Gant said of Johnson.
“There were a lot of moving parts and hundreds of people at the Sheriff’s Office that work hard every day,” Lathrop said. “Without that, we couldn’t have given closure to the family, solved the crime and gotten a conviction.”