Red Cross honors island heroes

Not many people can say they’ve prevented a stranger from taking their final leap, but De Dennis did just that last May.

Dressed in civilian clothing, driving an unmarked car and off duty, Chief Jail Administrator Dennis spied a curious sight as he drove across Deception Pass Bridge.

A man stood on the bridge safety railing, perched and ready to jump. Dennis parked his car, struck up a casual conversation with the potential jumper and convinced the man to return to the sidewalk-side of the railing.

Dennis waited with the fellow until emergency personnel arrived, and visited the man later that night at the hospital to make sure he received proper care.

Suicide prevention seems to be Dennis’ forte as last May’s save wasn’t his first; it was his third.

The Island County Red Cross won’t let such actions go unnoticed. Earlier this year, the emergency response organization honored Chief Dennis with a 2008 Red Cross Real Heroes Award.

Real Heroes of Island County are people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist others in need. Each of the individuals awarded responded to unexpected crisis by reaching out and taking risks to save others, according to a press release.

“De Dennis is an extraordinary man, always giving of himself and always helping those in need, never asking for or expecting praise,” Sheriff Mark Brown wrote of Dennis in his nomination.

The Red Cross honored six more community heroes at an April 4 event at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge.

Others honored included:

• Deputy Henry Schwab, who saved a Camano Island heart attack victim with an automated external defibrillator.

• Eight-year-old Brandon McLester, who used his Cub Scout training to save his brother Gabriel from drowning.

• The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Navy Search and Rescue Team, including Gregory Highfill, Seth Von Borstel, Andrew Peterson and Richmond Roy, for achieving a national record of 12 civilian rescues in 2008.

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