Rotary Club Honors 5 for Contributions

Five people, including two firefighters who survived a helicopter crash that killed three colleagues and an 11-year-old girl, were honored for their outstanding contribution to the community at a luncheon hosted by the Van Nuys Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Each received a certificate of recognition at the event, held at the Masonic Temple on Sherman Way.

"Every year the Rotary honors a policeman, a fireman, an educator and a businessperson for going above and beyond the call of duty," said Barbara Linski, secretary of the Rotary Club. "This year we decided to award two firemen because of their outstanding service."

Dennis Silgen of Los Angeles Fire Station 90 in Van Nuys and Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter pilot Steve Robinson were lauded for bravery when their helicopter went down near Griffith Park in late March. The crash occurred while the team was transporting Norma Vides, injured in a Sun Valley auto accident, to Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles.

Van Nuys Division Police Officer Pedro Ugarte was honored for distinguished service as a member of the department. Ugarte trains officers on tactical matters, visits area schools regularly and is a qualified police diver.

Brandon Austel, a science teacher at Van Nuys High School, was recognized for his efforts in the creation of an innovative teaching program. He is a mentor to high school students who teach science at local elementary schools on a volunteer basis.

Ana Jiminez, owner of Ana's Mexican restaurants in Van Nuys and Burbank, was honored for her many volunteer activities. She regularly works for the American Heart Assn., YMCA and a variety of other organizations.

During the Northridge earthquake, Jiminez donated meals to the Red Cross for delivery.

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