Heroic Award – Two Hockessin FFs Perform Heroic, Life-Saving Actions

The New Castle County Emergency Communications Canter (Fireboard) dispatched Station 19 and mutual aid companies to an “elderly male and a dog in the pond, 300 Lantana Drive.” Utility 19, staffed with FF/EMT/SWRT Jordan Edgerton and FF/EMT/SWRT William Krupa, responded. Additional Hockessin and mutual aid units also responded. While crews were responding, Fireboard dispatched a second emergency in the Hockessin district, “A sinking vehicle, in the water, occupied, Lantana Drive.” Fireboard then reported “We think it’s separate incidents: just advise, sounds like the vehicle has two people inside, the other was an older gentleman trying to get a dog out of the pond.”

U-19 confirmed the occupied vehicle in the water. In FF/EMT/SWRT Edgerton’s words, “Upon arrival, U-19 encountered a moderate sized crowd of people in an obvious panic at the waters edge. They were advising that one person was trapped in the sinking vehicle with several would-be rescuers on the vehicle, some had also been sucked under. The vehicle was situated approximately 15 yards into the water from the fire lane and was listing forward at an approximately 45-degree angle. There were four people on various parts of the exterior of the vehicle.”

Edgerton and Krupa knew this location was dangerous due to fast moving water at the entrance to a culvert underneath the shopping center, and was the site of a dual drowning in August 2011. They were fully dressed in their drysuits and vests, grabbed the rescue boat and equipment they brought with them, and entered the water.

Edgerton and Krupa took over the rescue efforts from the civilian rescuers, who had broken the rear window of the sinking vehicle. They made immediate verbal contact with the single occupant in the vehicle, then evacuated the civilian rescuers from the exterior of the vehicle via the rescue boat. They then worked to free the occupant, who was still inside the front seat of the vehicle. Realizing they could not gain access to the occupant, they broke a rear side window, entered, and pulled him from the front seat area to the rear seat. As the vehicle was rapidly sinking, Edgerton and Krupa knew they only had seconds to free the occupant. They worked together to rapidly extricate him. At the same instant they pulled the occupant out, the force of the water pulled the vehicle beneath the surface and into the culvert. It would remain fully submerged for more than four hours. They swam him out of the water and transferred him to EMS.

As this was a large-scale incident, personnel were spread out across Lantana Square. With many fire company rescuers in the rear, Edgerton and Krupa did all of this without any initial assistance or backup from the shoreline. This led to good-intentioned bystanders who had already been rescued once to re-enter the water and require additional rescuing.

But Edgerton and Krupa were not finished. They quickly switched roles to the rear of the shopping center to assist with the search for a potentially missing subject in the water. The scene was ultimately placed under control at 1402, but Edgerton, Krupa, and many other personnel worked hours longer to ensure all possible missing were located.

As with most successful incidents, a competent well-trained crew, solid training, advance preparation, quick response, and calm, quick thinking saved many lives. This incident was destined to be a success long before it happened.

Key actions taken by Edgerton and Krupa prior to this incident were: Both were trained swift-water technicians and had repeatedly practiced and prepared for this type of event; Upon seeing the weather reports they went to their supervisor and suggested they be assigned as extra staff to cover the storm; They recognized Utility 19 was out of service, and Hockessin would need to borrow a vehicle to tow the rescue boat (so it could be pre-inflated); They had all of their equipment checked and ready to go at the start of their shift and; They dressed in their drysuits and vests at the start of the storm, and were fully ready for more than two hours prior to the dispatch of this incident.

The members, staff, and officers of the Hockessin Fire Company are proud to recognize Jordan Edgerton and William Krupa for their heroic efforts. They exemplified the concept of others before self, at great personal risk, in the performance of this lifesaving rescue.

We would like to also thank the following fire companies and responders for their efforts in making this day a success: Belvedere, Christiana, Cranston Heights, Delaware City, Goodwill, Holloway Terrace, Mill Creek, Minquas, NCCo Dive Team, NCCo Emergency Communications Center, NCCo Emergency Medical Services, NCCo Special Operations Unites, NCCo Swift Water Team, Port Penn and Townsend.

— Meritorious Award —

Bridgeville FF Rescues Woman

Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) dispatched the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company, Greenwood Volunteer Fire Company, Sussex County Medics 107 and EMS 200, along with the Delaware State Police to a vehicle accident with car possibly submerged with an entrapment oat the intersection of Apple Tree and Sunnyside Roads on September 10, 2020.

Deputy Chief Buddy Wiley arrived to find several bystanders and a blue car completely submerged in the water. One bystander had tethered a towrope to the car and was attempting to pull the vehicle out without success. Mr. Wiley proceeded to the water to access the vehicle. With a hammer given to him by a bystander, he was able to break the car’s windows. He first checked the backseat for occupants. Finding none, he proceeded to the front of the vehicle where he located the driver securely fastened in. Wiley was able to pry the driver’s side door open and quickly cut the seat belt using a knife given to him by yet another bystander.

Buddy Wiley, along with the bystander, David Hollis, also of Bridgeville, pulled the driver from the car and he was taken from the water on the shoulder of DC Wiley. Mr. Hollis, EMT Perry Heberling, of the Bridgeville Fire Company, and a Delaware State Police Officer all assisted Chief Wiley with getting the victim out of the water and to the side of the road.

The victim was cared for by EMTs Perry Heberling and Tara Truitt, assisted by Sussex County Paramedics who had arrived on the scene. Once placed securely, Chief Wiley returned to the submerged car to search for any remaining victims; none were located. The victim was then transported to the hospital by ambulance while CPR and other life-saving measures were being performed per protocol. The patient remained hospitalized for over a week recovering from the incident. Thankfully, today the patient is home and recovering.

Credit for this successful outcome goes to everyone involved during the incident. Beginning with the proactive bystanders, the collaboration of the Bridgeville and Greenwood First Responders, the Delaware State Police, Sussex County EMS Staff, and all others that have trained for emergencies like this. Their dedication, quick thinking, training, and knowledge of the protocol all played a part in the success of this event.

Special recognition goes to Deputy Chief Wiley, who lives within the vicinity of the incident and reported directly to the location instead of going to the fire station first. His selfless act of courage to enter the water and attempt rescue of the trapped victim saved the patients life. Chief Wiley made a decision that morning to respond to the call of help, his quick response, training, and outstanding effort all made this incident a successful outcome.

Deputy Chief Wiley has since had the opportunity to meet the victim and the family, a truly moving and memorable meeting. The Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company feels that the actions taken by Chief Wiley ultimately saved a life, a true heroic effort that makes us proud to recognize him and to call him a brother firefighter.

— Meritorious Award —

Christiana Chief Saves Woman Before FFs Arrive

On January 14, 2021, Christiana Fire Company and other area companies were alerted to a house fire on Rice Drive in the Caravel Hunt development in Bear. Engine and Ladder 12 quickly responded as well as two chief officers. While the units were responding, past Deputy Chief Larence DuHadway signed on radio reporting that he was on scene with a working fire and had a person trapped inside the burning building.

The fire was located in a single family, two-story home. The home had smoke showing and the fire was in the first floor, near the sunroom.

Two children who escaped the fire were being watched by their grandmother who did not make it out of the home.

Chief DuHadaway quickly decided to put his personal safety in jeopardy and entered the front door of the home to affect a rescue. Chief DuHadaway did not have any protective clothing or SCBA in his personal vehicle.

When Chief DuHadaway opened the front door, he encountered thick black turbulent smoke that was about one foot off the floor. As Chief DuHadaway laid on his stomach and moved into the home he felt the heat from the fire on his unprotected neck and his eyes burned and watered from the smoke. He then recognized two shoes in the hallway. Chief DuHadaway moved toward the shoes and found an elderly woman laying supine on the hardwood floor in the hallway.

Chief DuHadaway grabbed the victim by her clothing and waist and moved her towards the doorway. Once at the doorway the victim was removed to the outside front lawn. All these actions were performed prior to the fire department arriving on the scene.

Once Engine and Ladder 12 arrived Chief DuHadaway retrieved the first aid bag from Engine 12 and started treating the patient.

Chief DuHadways aggressive actions lead to this citizen quick removal from a burning home.

Chief DuHadaway upheld the highest traditions of the fire service by making selfless rescue placing others lives before his own.


Kevin Cowperthwait