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Deputy honored after nine years
"Some things are worth waiting for.Kitsap County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ed Miller waited nine years for the Medal of Valor he was awarded recently at a recognition ceremony in Port Orchard. The medal commemorates his efforts to rescue a victim of a fiery head-on collision in 1991.Deputies Gary Simpson and Eric Bockelie were awarded medals of valor at that time, and volunteer firefighter Mark Joy received a meritorious service citation.Miller's recognition in November was a correction of an oversight, said Undersheriff Dennis Bonneville.In fact, Miller hadn't planned to pursue the issue when the awards and recognition committee was initiated in June. But friends spoke up for him, he said.The incident itself is one of the many unforgettable situations rescue personnel encounter.The fact that the victim, Sheryl Louise Anderson, the 24-year-old mother of a toddler, died shortly after made it more memorable. A marker bearing her name stands at the accident site on northbound State Route 3, a sober reminder to all who pass.The accident was caused by a drunk driver traveling south on northbound SR3, with no lights on, in October 1991.Off-duty firefigher Joy, who was traveling on SR3, heard reports of the wrong-way driver and tried to flag Anderson down when he saw her lights. But she didn't see him, Miller recalled.I remember the call about the DUI. I was paralleling the road, heading to the highway, when the collision happened, Miller said. Gary Simpson saw it and called it in, Miller recalled. He saw the fireball when the truck's gas tank exploded on impact. The pickup's driver was killed, and the two vehicles were melded together from the force, he said.Fire was creeping across the truck's hood to the car. Simpson, Bockelie, Joy and Miller attempted to protect Anderson from the fire while trying to open the mangled door and get her out, he said.Bockelie used his fire extinguisher, and Joy found a piece of plywood to put across the windshield to protect Anderson from the fire. They also were doing what trauma stuff we could until the fire department arrived and got the flames out, Miller said.In the process of leaning into the car to aid Anderson and get the door open, the fire singed Miller's hair and melted a hole in the polyester fabric of his shirtsleeve.He didn't realize it until another deputy said something afterward, Miller said.They did get Anderson out of the car, but she later died of her injuries, he said.Miller's family - wife Doreen, and children Erin, Michael and Courtney - were on hand for the award ceremony. They were happy for me, said Miller, who lives near Silverdale.This is one of the more enjoyable aspects of being sheriff, said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer of this first awards and promotional ceremony.The event included the swearing in of two new deputies, five corrections officers, the promotion of Monica Stuart to records supervisor, retirement of Deputy Michael Gunderson and service awards for other Sheriff's Department employees.Frequently you have to bring bad news to people. This is a celebration ... a chance to recognize the long-term contributions of people that have been here, loyal and dependable, who ... are proud to serve the citizens, Boxer added. "