Sheriff's Rescue Team Wins National Award

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department Aviation Unit will be honored this week for saving two people stranded above Santa Ana Creek in February during heavy rains.

The swift-water rescue team will be presented the Higgins and Langley Memorial Award in Swiftwater Rescue Incident Commendation for the second time, an annual award presented by the National Assn. of Search and Rescue.

Burt Blume and Gloria Vasquez of Ojai were rescued Feb. 23 after they were stranded in a two-seat cable car over Santa Ana Creek for more than an hour.

The rescue team hovered in a helicopter over the car in pouring rain, then lowered a rescue strap 75 feet and pulled out the victims. Although the creek is usually calm, El Nino-driven storms caused it to rise considerably.

Award recipients include pilot Dave Nadon, crew chief and Reserve Deputy Ron Stufflebeam, Senior Sheriff's Deputy Frank Underlin and Deputy Greg Chase.

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