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First responders honored at Chamber event

By Staff | Nov 21, 2019

It has become a tradition each November for Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce members to gather at FOS Furniture to pay tribute to law enforcement and fire professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

On Thursday, the tradition continued as the Chamber was set to recognize a member of the Cape Coral Police and Fire departments as well as one from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at a special Business After Hours event.

Pat Corlew, owner at FOS, said the event started after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center as a way to show appreciation for first responders.

“After that attack, people started driving around with flags in their car and the patriotism spiked. We’re trying to let our local heroes realize we appreciate what they do for us to keep us safe,” Corlew said before the event scheduled to be held at the business on Del Prado Boulevard.

The Cape Coral Police Department chose Carlos Mena, a 22-year veteran at the CCPD and a member of the narcotics unit, as its choice this year.

Mena has volunteered for all seven years of the annual Holiday Heroes Food Drive by planning and organizing the event to benefit the Harry Chapin Food Drive. Last year, the group was able to collect more than 2,200 pounds of food and raise more than $2,000 to give to the food bank.

“This mission could not have been a success without the efforts of Sergeant Mena,” said CCPD Master Sgt. Patrick O’Grady in a statement. “His actions not only assisted those in need, but brought great credit upon himself, his family and the Cape Coral Police Dept.”

For security reasons, no pictures of him can be provided.

The Cape Coral Fire Department selected Fire Engineer/Drive Todd Clark as its honoree for his actions at a vehicle crash last September.

On Sept. 28, 2018 at 12:08 a.m., Cape Coral firefighters were called to a single-vehicle crash in the northwest Cape. The vehicle had gone airborne, landed on the roof of a home, rolled through the lanai screen and came to rest in a swimming pool.

Clark jumped into the pool and extricated the three occupants trapped in the vehicle despite the possible risk of the car submerging deeper into the pool and even electrical sources that could have trapped and possibly electrocuted Clark as well as the occupants.

Firefighters positioned ladders across the pool to provide a platform and used an extrication device to remove the roof from the vehicle to gain access to the patients. They also drained water from the pool and provided medical treatment to the patients once on dry land.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno named two deputies to receive the top honor, Ryan Lynn and Brian Walkowiak.

On April 30, 2018, Lynn was performing a traffic stop on South Cleveland Avenue near Fowler Street, when one of the passengers fled. Lynn did not give chase, but detained the male driver and a female passenger until more units arrived.

Walkowiak arrived with his K-9 partner, and Lynn then assisted with the canine track.

The subjects had been seen leaving a hotel prior to the traffic stop and the search was concentrated in that area.Witnesses said that the man who fled was armed.

When located, deputies ordered him to drop his weapon as they closed in. He did not comply, and at one point pointed the gun to his head before pointing it at Lynn and Walkowiak, officials said.

Fearing for their lives, both deputies fired their weapons, striking the man multiple times, while the K-9 grabbed hold of him as other deputies disarmed him and began first aid.

It was later revealed the man was about to enter a plea and be sentenced to prison. He reportedly said he would rather die than go back to prison.

“All the departments really appreciate it. They all realize how the community responds and all the business people trying to respond in a responsible way,” Corlew said. “Each department has done so much as our community has grown.”

FOS Furniture is at 790 Del Prado Boulevard.