Honoring heroic local first responders and law enforcement

5th Annual SKY VALOR is presented by Bogin, Munns & Munns


They answer first, ensure our safety 24-7, putting THEMSELVES in harm’s way.  They are our brave, dedicated local first responders.  Their first priority is protecting the lives of others.

The 5th annual SKY VALOR Honors Program salutes these brave men and women in each of our communities.  Law enforcement, fire-rescue personnel, emergency medical technicians and flight operators.  97.3 The SKY recognizes acts of bravery and kindness in the past year that went above and beyond the call of duty.  Every day in June, proud to recognize a new local hero. 

Special thanks to sponsors Florence Recycling and Santa Fe College.


With the Ocala Police Department, Detective Stephanie McQuaig

Short bio:  McQuaig joined Ocala Police as a Patrol Officer in 1997.  She has been a field training officer, responsible for cultivating new officers.  McQuaig earned a position as a Property Crimes Detective.  Then Major Crimes in 2007 working on  Robbery, Homicide and Sexual Assault cases.  McQuaig now serves with the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team.

Why this person is being honored:

During Detective McQuaig’s tenure in Major Crimes, she mainly worked sexual assault and child abuse cases…challenging, difficult, emotional cases for detectives.  McQuaig became a champion for victims.  She started working closely with a local organization, Kimberly’s Center, supporting child victims of physical and sexual abuse in need of counseling in a safe environment.  The Center solely relies on grants and community donations to provide services for trauma victims, family therapy, forensic interviews, medical examinations, child advocacy, crisis intervention counseling, and child sexual abuse prevention education at no cost to families and caregivers.  Every year, Kimberly’s Center treats approximately 1,200 children at an average cost per child of at least $1000.  McQuaig worked very closely with this organization due to the nature of her cases.  She developed the fundraiser, 5K Race Against Child Abuse.  First held in 2012, the annual Race Against Child Abuse has grown to an event with 450 participants.  To date, McQuaig’s efforts have raised more than $160,000 for Kimberly’s Center.  

For her tireless community dedication, 97.3 The SKY and the Ocala Police Department are proud to salute…Detective Stephanie McQuaig.



With the City of Alachua Police Department, Officer Robert Salter.

Short Bio:   Salter has served fulltime Alachua since January 2018.  In addition to patrol duties, he is on the department’s Traffic Unit and is one of the city’s 2 motorcycle officers.  Salter previously served as a Reserve Officer while working full time in a different field. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Why Salter is being honored:  In his year and a half, Salter has proven to be one of the Alachua Police Department’s most proactive officers.  Last May, he encountered a known gang member and drug dealer in a traffic stop. Upon making contact, Salter noticed an odor of marijuana, and the driver had multiple license suspensions.  The suspect was arrested for the suspensions, but a further vehicle search revealed substantial cash…including over $9,100 hidden inside a sneaker in the trunk.  Salter’s subsequent investigation determined the cash was drug money, and seized by the department.  Multiple cell phones yielded valuable intelligence into the driver’s gang and narcotics activity.  Salter’s arrest and probe resulted in safer streets for residents.

For his professionalism, determination and hard work, 97.3 The SKY and the City of Alachua Police Department are proud to salute…Officer Robert Salter.



With Gainesville Fire Rescue, Driver Operator Rutledge Rogers

Short Bio:   Rogers has served with Gainesville Fire Rescue for over 8 years.  He is a Paramedic and Technical Rescue Specialist, serving not only the citizens of Gainesville, but throughout the state…Rogers is a member of the North Central Florida Disaster Task Force known as Task Force 8, a multi-agency Urban Search and Rescue team that is one of the state’s 9 specialized assets for heavy technical rescue during extended operations.  

Why Rogers is being honored:

This past January, Gainesville Fire Rescue responded to a report of a worker buried in a trench collapse at a construction-site on SW 16th Avenue.  The worker was completely covered by dirt, 15-feet below ground.  Upon arrival, crews were unable to see any portion of the worker’s body, including his head, putting him in imminent danger from asphyxiation.  Directed to the worker’s approximate location by bystanders, and facing significant personal risk, Rogers entered the 15 foot hole and began digging by hand and shovel to reach the patient.  In moments, Rogers located the worker and successfully cleared his face first, so he could breathe.  Next, assisted by other G-F-R members, the worker’s torso and upper extremities were uncovered.  The patient was successfully removed from the trench conscious and breathing, and transported to a hospital.  Throughout the rescue, the trench walls remained unstable with small sections continuing to breakdown, which created an ongoing threat to the rescuers.  The immediate actions of Rogers and other G-F-R members that day resulted in a successful rescue, saving the worker’s life. 

For his quick action in the face of personal danger, 97.3 The SKY and Gainesville Fire Rescue are proud to salute…driver-operator Rutledge Rogers as a VALOR honoree.



With the Santa Fe College Police Department…Officer Joseph “Joel” Pearson

Short Bio:  Pearson is a life-long resident of Gainesville….He was with Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for 2 years, and has served fulltime with Santa Fe College for 17 years.  Officer Pearson began as a reserve officer with S-F-P-D in January of this year.

Why this person is being honored:

Pearson has shown remarkable dedication and devotion to Santa Fe’s campus community.  He served as the department’s firearms instructor for 10 years, is a certified Glock Armorer, and has been a field training officer.  Pearson has received numerous awards…he is a 2-time Life Saving Award honoree…he was recognized for performing C-P-R on a student whose heart stopped 3-times…and during a cheerleading event, Pearson used an A-E-D to revive a coach whose heart stopped.  He received a Meritorious Service Award for efforts in the arrest of an armed suspect on campus.  Pearson also was honored with the Good Conduct Award, for representing high standards of police professionalism.  Although Pearson is now in reserve status with Santa Fe College Police, he continues to serve…as a firearms trainer, and as an integral participant in the development of the department’s reserve program.

Pearson is being recognized for continued integrity, honor and commitment to protecting Santa Fe College…no task is too big or too small. 

For his consistent dedication to duty, that in many cases saves lives and protects others from harm, 97.3 The SKY and the Santa Fe College Police Department are proud to salute…Officer Joseph “Joel” Pearson…



With the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, K-9 Deputy Alan Lee.


Short Bio:   Deputy Lee began his law enforcement career with Marion County Sheriff’s Office in the summer of 2007.  He was selected to become a member of the K-9 Unit in 2015 and continues this assignment along with his K-9 partner Zeus.

Why Lee is being honored:  Last summer, Lee was patrolling the area of SW 27th Avenue and SR 40 when he drove up on a vehicle stopped in the roadway.  The driver of the vehicle was in cardiac arrest and bystanders were actively trying to assist him.  Fortunately for the victim, one of the citizens assisting happened to be a registered nurse, Amy Somwaru.  Deputy Lee and Somwaru began doing CPR on the victim while waiting for medics to arrive.  Eventually, the victim regained a pulse and was taken to the hospital where he recovered.  Due to life-saving acts shown by K-9 Deputy Lee and Nurse Somwaru, the victim survived, and was reunited with his wife and young child.

For his life-saving action, 97.3 The SKY and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are proud to salute… K-9 Deputy Alan Lee.



Todd Brooks, Chief Flight Nurse ShandsCair Critical Care Transport Program

UF Health-ShandsCair


Short Bio:   Brooks has lived most of his life in Alachua County, raising his family here and has been a local baseball coach as his children grew up.  He brings that coaching mentality to his daily life.  Brooks has been with ShandsCair since 1995 and before that a paramedic with Alachua County Fire Rescue.  Currently, as the Chief Flight Nurse of the East Region for ShandsCair, Brooks is helping mold the next generation of first responders that take care of this community.  

Why Brooks is being honored:

In April while working out at the gym, he witnessed a head-on collision between 2 cars in northwest Gainesville.  Brooks rushed out to the intersection in gym clothes, holding C-spine precautions and protecting the airway of a bleeding and unconscious, but breathing, driver.  He continued to do so until fire rescue units arrived about 10 minutes later.  Once the patient regained consciousness, Brooks coached her in a calm and kind manner.  Even though he had no equipment or gloves on hand, Brooks went out of his way to protect and help another citizen in need.  This exemplifies how Brooks serves ShandsCair and the community on a daily basis.



First responders with Alachua County Fire-Rescue...Travis Chaney, Rescue Lieutenant II with Alachua County Fire Rescue…and Kristi Langston, Firefighter-Paramedic from the Newberry Fire Department...


Short Bios:  Travis Chaney has served in Alachua County for over 16 years, and Kristi Langston in Newberry for 14 years…she completed Paramedic school last December.

Why Chaney and Langston are being honored:

On the afternoon of January 3rd, Chaney and Langston responded to a serious multi-vehicle accident on I-75 north of Gainesville.  When they arrived, they found a horrific scene with multiple vehicles involved, including two semi-tractor trailers, and several vehicles were on fire.  Worse yet, there were patients all over the large scene, with many having been ejected and lying in the roadway.  Chaney sized up the scene, took command, and ordered several more units to be dispatched.  With the roadway blocked by a burning tractor trailer, fire rescue units coming from the north were cut off from the patients needing treatment. Many more fire trucks and ambulances were coming from the south, but it was going to be a while due to heavy afternoon traffic flow.  Chaney and Langston spent the next several minutes triaging and treating patients in this mass casualty situation.  The scene was chaos with bystanders all over, some trying to help as best as they could.  As units arrived, Chaney and Langston prioritized patients for immediate transport to the hospital, all with large fires and explosions around them.  Once enough other responders made it to the scene, Chaney and Langston packaged a critical pediatric patient into their unit and transported them to the hospital as a trauma alert.  Overall, 3 passenger vehicles and 2 semi-tractor trailers were involved in the accident with 14 total patients.  In the end, there were 7 fatalities, including 5 children.  All of the crews that responded that day acted heroically, but the actions of Chaney and Langston were especially notable.  With the severe stresses and emotion of that environment, Chaney and Langston remained calm, professional and highly effective, helping to save the lives of many of the patients involved.  

For their bravery and action in danger, 97.3 The SKY and Alachua County Fire Rescue are proud to salute… Rescue Lieutenant Travis Chaney…and Firefighter-Paramedic Kristi Langston, from the Newberry Fire Department.



From Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office, saluting Deputy Garth Frier…


Short Bio:  Frier started with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office in 2017 as a Patrol Deputy, and he is currently one of G-C-S-O’s K-9 Deputies. 

Why Deputy Frier is being honored:

In April around 4 a.m., there was a serious traffic crash at the intersection of State Road 26 and County Road 337.  Frier was dispatched, and was the first responder on the scene.  He discovered a head-on collision had occurred, and one of the vehicles was on fire.  Deputy Frier quickly assessed the situation and attempted to extinguish the fire.  Fearing the vehicle’s occupant could be in danger from the fire, Frier began trying to get the person out.  He went to the driver’s side, reached in and pulled the occupant out of the driver’s side window.  Frier then rushed over to check the on the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash.  It was apparent that driver was deceased and trapped in the vehicle.  Florida Highway Patrol was contacted and the en-route trooper advised of the status of those involved in the crash.  The swift and professional actions taken by Frier to extinguish the fire and remove one person, without concern for his own safety, likely saved the surviving occupant’s life. 

For his heroic action, 97.3 The SKY and the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office are proud to salute Deputy Garth Frier, as today’s VALOR honoree.



With the Gainesville Police Department, K-9 Officer Rob Rogers, Corporal Crystal Castor, and Officer Lionel Ortiz.


Why Rogers, Castor and Ortiz are being honored:

Last September Rogers, Castor and Ortiz responded to a 2 a.m. call of a disturbance at Board Walk Apartments.  It was later determined that an individual was experiencing a severe PTSD episode.  While in crisis, he had broken a window in the apartment, sustaining a life-threatening laceration with arterial bleeding.  Rogers, Castor and Ortiz were attempting to apply a tourniquet to the injured's arm, but he became combative, making it difficult to apply treatment.  The officers had to gain control of the individual by throwing a blanket over his blood-covered body.  The incident took place in the kitchen, on a floor wet from blood and water.  Rogers, Castor and Ortiz were persistent, the tourniquet was applied, which stopped the intense bleeding.  The individual eventually had to be sedated by EMS to finally calm him.  He was transported to a hospital and Baker-acted for treatment.  Without the application of the tourniquet, the arterial bleeding could have been fatal.  Due to the heroism of these GPD officers, a life was saved.

For their bravery and dedication, 97.3 The SKY and Gainesville Police Department are proud to salute K-9 Officer Rob Rogers, Corporal Crystal Castor, and Officer Lionel Ortiz.



With the Levy County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Justin Arters...


Short Bio:  Deputy Arters joined the Levy County Sheriff's Office as a Deputy Sheriff last June and is assigned to the Patrol Division.  He previously served with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office as Court Bailiff.  Arters grew up in our area, and is a graduate of Newberry High School and the Santa Fe College Police Academy.

Why Deputy Arters is being honored:  

This past April, Deputy Arters responded to a domestic disturbance in the Williston area.  Upon arrival, he discovered a husband and wife engaged in an argument over the custody of a small child.  The mother was holding the child in her lap as Deputy Arters attempted to verbally de-escalate the situation.  The mother was desperate, saying she preferred to take the life of the child than allow custody by the father.  She proceeded to force the child face down onto a bed where she used all of her weight in an attempt to commit mortal harm.  Deputy Arters acted immediately to rescue the child, by forcefully knocking the woman off of the child before any serious injury could occur.  He then placed in the child in the father’s care and returned to arrest the mother for child abuse.  Deputy Arters showed great courage in taking the necessary actions to save the child, all before any backup deputies could arrive.  

For his life-saving action, 97.3 The SKY and Levy County Sheriff’s Office are proud to salute Deputy Justin Arters, as a VALOR honoree.



From Ocala Fire Rescue, Fire Equipment Operator-Paramedic Ryan Brady...


Short Bio:  Brady began working for the city of Ocala Fire Department 16 years ago.  After just one year of employment, Brady pursued his paramedic license, and has continued striving to excel in the field since.  Along with being a member of O-F-R’s Rapid Intervention team, Special Operations team and Florida Task Force Eight, Brady is also an instructor at the Florida State Fire College.

Why Brady is being honored:

On April 24, as Brady made his way to work, he noticed a motorcyclist approaching rapidly.  Thinking nothing of it, Ryan continued his commute.  Little did he know that a few minutes later he would be providing life-saving care to that cyclist.

At 7:46 a.m. Ocala Fire Rescue units were dispatched to a vehicle versus motorcycle call.  As crews arrived, a group of bystanders were providing care to the man who had been ejected from his motorcycle after hitting a curb.  Among those bystanders was Ryan Brady, the first person to pull over to aid.  Finding a patient in critical condition with a compromised airway, Brady worked to facilitate the patient’s breathing.  As Brady advised another bystander for assistance securing a c-spine, a nurse pulled up to the accident scene.  Thanks to tools the nurse had with her, the pair was able to provide mechanical ventilation, and transfer care as soon as transport crews arrived.

Had it not been for the actions of the off-duty, medically trained personnel on the scene – Brady and the nurse – the patient’s condition would have turned from critical to fatal in the four minutes between the call being placed and emergency responders arriving on the scene.

For his life-saving action, 97.3 The SKY and Ocala Fire Rescue are proud to salute Fire Equipment Operator - Paramedic Ryan Brady, as a VALOR honoree.

Please check back as we salute our Valor Honorees every weekday in the month of June.