Sheriff's Deputy Steven Elmore, 22, was working an afternoon shift at the central jail in November when a new inmate climbed a fence to the fourth floor and threatened to jump to his death.
Screaming that his marriage and his life were falling apart, the man would not let anyone talk to him except for Elmore, who was on a landing above the fence. After nearly two hours of counseling, the deputy coaxed the inmate to climb down.
For saving a prisoner from suicide, Elmore will be honored along with a dozen other employees of the Sheriff's Department today at the fourth annual Sheriff's Medal of Valor Luncheon in the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa, Sheriff's Lt. Richard J. Olson said.
"I felt I was holding someone's life in my hand, and basically I was surprised that I can remain calm in that kind of situation," said Elmore, who will receive a Medal for Lifesaving.
Others to receive the same award are Deputy Arthur Barrera, Community Service Officer Tammy Cutler, Deputy Michael Mullen and Deputy Sherri Mullen.
Under the Medal of Courage category, the recipients are Deputies Robert Anderson, Jeff Bardzik, Roland Chacon and Angel Angrade, Sheriff's Special Officer Elizabeth Hoffman and Reserve Deputy Dave Smith.
Those to be awarded the Medal of Merit are Reserve Lt. Larry Harris, another citizen volunteer, and Senior Criminalist James White.
Winners were chosen by the Sheriff's Advisory Council, an 800-member private group of business and community leaders. The 10-year-old council began the Medal of Valor ceremony in 1989.
Officials this year will not give out the top honor, the Medal of Valor, nor the Purple Heart.