Five local parks men to be honored for valor

This article was run in the “Ojai Valley News” on page A3 of the Wednesday, April 19, 1978 edition. The author is unknown.

Five local parks men to be honored for valor

Five Ojai Valley men employed by the Ventura County Parks Department will be honored at the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County’s 5th annual Medal of Valor Awards Dinner April 21. Thomas [Drew] Mashburn, Larry Bintz, Mike Payton, Rip Reed and Bob Bordasch will each receive the Citizen Award for Distinguished Service for their rescue of U.S. Forest Service officer Jim Schellenger from Matilija Canyon floodwaters in February.

Schellenger was hiking along Matilija Canyon Road just past the campground taking photographs of flood damage. He safely crossed a section of road that had been washed out, traversing a narrow ledge about 3 feet wide by 10 feet long. When he returned, the ledge was gone, leaving a breech of about eight feet. To one side was a sheer rock wall; to the other, flooded Matilija Creek.

SCHELLENGER TRIED to scale the wall to cross. A rock he used as a handgrip gave way, and he fell into the river, where he was immediately swept downstream about 40 yards under water. When he finally struggled to the surface, he saw a drain pipe jutting from the river bank, grabbed it and climbed atop. Still in the river channel, however, he could not climb up the bank.

When he called for help, the five park men came to his rescue by forming a human chain to pull him to safety.

The Peace Officers’ Association, which is comprised of officers from all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies of the county, sponsor the Medal of Valor Awards Dinner to recognize citizens and police officers who have risked their lives to save a life or apprehend a dangerous criminal. The dinner will be held at the Oxnard Community Center, and tickets can be purchased through police or sheriff’s departments.

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