W.Va. Sheriff Honors Residents, Emergency Workers Who Rescued Others From Floods


The Associated Press

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - Ohio County's sheriff has given the county's first awards of valor to residents and emergency workers who rescued others during mid-September floods.

"We're fortunate to have people like these who weren't afraid to do the right thing, and we're fortunate to have people here who wouldn't be here otherwise," Sheriff Tom Burgoyne said during an awards luncheon Tuesday.

Jerry Cox Sr., aided by a man who did not give him his name, rescued a disabled Vietnam veteran from his mobile home, which was floating in the waters of Short Creek. With no home to return to, the veteran is now living with the Cox family, Burgoyne said.

John Weitzl was honored for rescuing Tom Stricklin, his 13-year-old daughter, and her friend from the roof of their submerged truck.

Bob Hanson, 41, of Triadelphia planned to visit his mother on Sept. 17, but with a childhood friend, Bob Slyder, battled a swift current and submerged objects to rescue Jamie Holeczy, 23, and her great aunt, Millie Thompson, 80, from their home. They and Ohio County Sheriff's Deputies Doug Ernest and James Hall and West Virginia State Police Trooper James Kozik later rescued two other women from their homes.

State Police Trooper Jason Laing warned residents of potential flooding using his cruiser's public address system and rescued a woman from her trailer as water rose to cover the hubcaps on his car.

Wheeling Jesuit University was recognized for its students' flood cleanup efforts. St. Michael Catholic Church and Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church were honored for feeding West Virginia and Kentucky National Guard members.

Twenty-two counties were declared federal disaster areas by President Bush after Hurricane Ivan's remains dumped about 5 inches of rain on the Ohio Valley from Wheeling to Marietta, Ohio, in September. Up to 9 inches of rain fell on an area from Wheeling to Pittsburgh.

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