SACRAMENTO ― A California Men’s Colony (CMC) employee was among 98 people honored Sept. 18 at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s 35th annual Medal of Valor ceremony for their bravery in responding to life-threatening situations in the line of duty and in the community as well as exemplary work benefitting the department and the public.

“This year’s honorees show that the bravery and professionalism of our staff extends beyond institution walls and into the community. Our employees keep order, ensure safety, encourage rehabilitation and serve the people of California,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said.

CMC Correctional Officer Ricardo Ancheta was honored with a Silver Star medal, awarded for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances and displaying courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person.

Correctional Officer Ancheta was surprised to see a sport utility vehicle wedged under a semi-trailer truck as he drove home. Smoke and flames could be seen coming from the SUV’s engine.

Using bolt cutters, Officer Ancheta broke the back window so he could crawl in and check on the driver. The victim urged him to find her son, but Officer Ancheta couldn’t find the child in the SUV. He called for bystanders outside the vehicle to check. The child was found sitting by the side of the road with minor injuries.

Officer Ancheta stayed with the victim and kept her from panicking as flames continued to burn under the hood. California Highway Patrol units arrived and put out the fire.

Officer Ancheta stayed with the victim until responders used the Jaws of Life to free her.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s Medal of Valor ceremony was pre-recorded. Employees from nearly all disciplines and professions statewide received awards at the virtual ceremony that featured videos, narration and photographs.

CDCR awarded the Medal of Valor award, Bronze, Silver and Gold Corrections Stars; Distinguished Service Medals; Beacon Awards, and medals for Correctional Officer, Correctional Supervisor and Executive of the Year.

CDCR also honored exemplary executives and administrators as well as health care, rehabilitation, parole, and juvenile justice professionals.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles