12/04/2007

CHP officer to get the Medal of Valor

By Malaika Fraley
The Contra Costa Times

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif.  A California Highway Patrol officer who patrols Contra Costa County will be honored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today for saving a man from a fiery car wreck in Concord last year.

Officer Brian Elledge, 29, of Vacaville is among 31 people who will receive at a ceremony in Sacramento the Governor's State Employee Medal of Valor for bravery.

About 1:30 a.m. Dec. 2, 2006, Elledge and his patrol partner, Officer Jonathon Lockhart, were driving on southbound Highway 242 on their way to another accident when they stopped at the sight of a column of smoke coming from the right-hand shoulder near Highway 4.

Down the embankment was a Dodge Stratus containing a 38-year-old Pittsburg man, who had crashed seconds earlier. The car was filled with smoke, the dash and floorboards were in flames. Elledge used a baton to smash the driver's-side window and pulled the disorientated man out of the vehicle.

Once outside, Elledge used his own hands and dirt to snuff flames burning the driver's back and legs before Lockhart put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

"If (Elledge) did not take quick action, (the driver) would have been burned alive, which is a horrifying thought," said Officer Scott Yox, spokesman for the CHP's Martinez office. "We believe he played a huge part in saving this guy's life."

Elledge, a CHP officer for nearly eight years, played down his actions, which also earned him a Medal of Distinction from the California Peace Officers' Association.

"It's nice to be recognized," Elledge said. "Personally, I don't think what I did was special because I know any of my colleagues would have done the same thing had they been put in that situation. But it is an honor to receive the award."

Copyright 2007 COntra Costa Times

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