Heroes recognized at annual breakfast




Visit the Red Cross website to watch the videos produced for the event.

Dale Ostrander grabbed his father’s hand and walked a few feet toward the podium. The 12-year-old boy’s efforts were met with a standing ovation from 600 people packed around him in the Hilton Vancouver Washington’s ballroom Friday.

That’s because seven months ago Ostrander’s seemingly lifeless body was pulled from the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean after being underwater for about 15 minutes. Friday was all about honoring the people who saved him and other heroes like them.

Visit the Red Cross website to watch the videos produced for the event.

Nine people from Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties were recognized Friday morning at the 15th annual Real Heroes Breakfast. The event is the only fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Southwest Washington.

Dale made his way to the podium to accept awards for water rescue volunteers Doug Knutzen and Eddie Mendez, who were unable to attend the breakfast because of a national training event.

Dale’s dad, Chad Ostrander of Spanaway, said Knutzen would also want to credit people who called 911, performed CPR and took care of his son at the hospital with saving his son’s life.

“They’re the first responders, but it’s a lot of heroes involved,” he said.

Each hero was given a medal — a red cross with a red lanyard — after a video of their story was projected on two screens that flanked the stage. Those recognized were:

o James Bray, a Vancouver man, sprung into action when a car slammed into a utility pole near his home and caught fire. Bray, with the help of a few others, pulled the driver out of the car. Firefighters said the man wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for Bray’s efforts.

o Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Randon Walker and Deputy Brett Anderson were recognized for performing CPR on a man injured during a motorcycle accident in rural Clark County. Walker was the first to arrive and performed CPR when he couldn’t find a pulse. Anderson was the second to arrive and brought an automated external defibrillator and attached the pads to the survivor’s chest. The device said a shock wasn’t needed. AMR took over, and the man was sent to the hospital by Life Flight.

o Heather Stackhouse, a paraeducator at Hockinson High School, used abdominal thrusts on a colleague who was choking during lunch. Stackhouse was the only adult in the area and was able to get the food dislodged from her colleague’s throat.

o When a wildfire in September displaced large numbers of people in Goldendale, Melody Bazzel volunteered to help organize an animal shelter. Bazzel found a space on the fairgrounds for the animals to stay and coordinated evacuations, found food donations, kept track of owners and made sure animals were taken care of on a daily basis.

o Waste Connections employee Brian Croft saw a woman running across the street with a small fire extinguisher during one of his shifts. Croft and another man on the truck investigated and found out the woman’s home was on fire. Croft grabbed a fire extinguisher from his truck, entered the home and yelled for people to leave. He then put out the fire and opened the windows to ventilate smoke.

o Washougal High School student Hunter Nelson, 17, took care of a friend for about five hours after he fell 50 feet down a cliff. Nelson kept Danny Riat warm to prevent him from going into shock, kept him from moving and gave him water. The two were eventually rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter, Nelson said during his video. Nelson was amazed at the event and said his friend is doing well.

“The moment I saw Danny falling, I didn’t think anything good would come of it,” he said after the event.