Two first responders have been named 2022 Contra Costa County Public Safety Heroes by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena). Martinez police Sgt. Zach Lekse and Crockett-Carquinez fire Capt. John Angell were both recognized for the honor.
Each year, Thompson honors first responders in his district who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
According to a statement from Thompson’s office, during a suspicious vehicle stop in early 2019, Lekse discovered a small amount of methamphetamine. The driver told him of a mid-level dealer living and operating near the Martinez Police Department.
Noting that the dealer was on probation, Lekse coordinated a search resulting in the seizure of a quarter-pound of methamphetamine, a loaded handgun, and $5,000 in cash.
During his ensuing investigation, Lekse found a connection between the suspect and the Guzman family cartel of Mexico. Over several months, Lekse worked with the FBI to lead a massive multi-agency effort that led to the seizure of numerous firearms, approximately 100 pounds of methamphetamine, $23,000 in cash and $80,000 of assets.
Last summer, Angell was on his way to a mutual aid cover assignment when he saw someone standing near the edge of the Carquinez Bridge. He realized the person was possibly contemplating suicide and contacted dispatch for a California Highway Patrol unit.
“After making the call, he realized that there may not be enough time to wait and approached the individual on his own,” the statement said. “Captain Angell spoke to the individual, comforted them, and talked them away from the edge. When authorities arrived, he returned to his original call.”
The Public Safety Heroes awards are made in each county that makes up Thompson’s 5th Congressional District. Others recognized by Thompson include Cory Smith of Lake County fire, officer Juan Altamirano of Lakeport Police Department, Rodger Collinson of Napa Fire Dept., deputies Brian Ringo and Joseph Schiavoni of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, Benicia police detective Rory Logan, Solano County paramedic Robert O’Connor, Kristy and Bob Brindley of Just1Mike Foundation, officer Westin Schindler of Santa Rosa Police Department, and Sgt.Terry White and officers Jason Jucutan, Jeff Badger, Dane Schindler, and Brett Wright of the Santa Rosa Police Dept. Special Enforcement Team.