A 21-year-old student who died while trying to help a drowning child at Ventura Harbor last year and a man who died in August while attempting to catch an auto burglary suspect will be honored posthumously Friday at the annual Medal of Valor awards ceremony sponsored by the Peace Officers Assn. of Ventura County.
Oxnard Police Officer Steven Kawaguchi will receive the Medal of Valor, the association's highest award. Three other Oxnard officers, Don Eckstrom, Kenneth Tougas and Randey Cole, will receive Medals of Merit.
Student Mike Takagi was with friends at Ventura Harbor on March 30, 1987, during spring break from San Diego State University, when a woman began screaming that a child was in trouble in the water. He jumped in, swam to the child and headed toward shore when a riptide began to pull them both back to sea.
An unidentified woman on a Boogie board was able to reach them, grabbed the child and paddled to shore. However, Takagi vanished beneath the surface. His body was found 10 minutes later on the beach 150 yards from where he had first entered the water.
Anthony Wayne McAtee, who will also receive a posthumous Citizen Medal of Merit, was stabbed to death at Port Hueneme beach after he caught an auto burglary suspect.
9 Citizen Medals
In addition to Takagi and McAtee, nine men will receive Citizen Medals of Merit for their heroic actions, which included saving three passengers from a burning car, catching two burglary suspects and rescuing two people from drowning.
Kawaguchi and Eckstrom are being honored for stopping an attack on an Oxnard woman by her former boyfriend, who was armed with a gun, at her apartment. When the man pointed his gun at them after shooting one round while struggling with the woman, Kawaguchi fired one shot, killing him.
Cole prevented a man from leaping off an overpass onto California 1, and Tougas searched a burning apartment for a child.
Other honorees include James Morris, Ronald Griffin and Bruce Augustine, who pulled accident victims from a buring wreck in Oxnard; Jon Trout and Ronney Curth Lindell, who cornered a holdup suspect in Ventura; Matthew James Seguin, who tackled a robbery suspect at a Ventura fast-food restaurant; Jeff Pennington, a surfer who pulled two girls out of rough water near Ventura, and Edward Norcok Spicer and Sean Kearns, who attempted a rescue in the waters off Port Hueneme.
The awards ceremony will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in Ventura. Assemblyman Jack O'Connell will be guest speaker and Municipal Judge Bruce A. Clark will serve as master of ceremonies. About 350 people are expected to attend.