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Posted on: September 24, 2019

State Parks Boating Program presents awards at annual marine law enforcement conference

OLYMPIA – Sept. 24, 2019 – The Washington State Parks Boating Program recognized the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of marine law enforcement organizations and individuals at its annual conference last week in Vancouver.

For the past 20 years the Boating Program has used part of the conference to recognize marine law enforcement programs and individuals for their work as recreational boating safety and enforcement professionals.

Awards are presented in three categories: Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Recreational Boating Safety Education Merit Award and Recreational Boating Safety Life Saving Award.

The State Parks Boating Program presented the following awards Sept.19 at the 31st Annual Marine Law Enforcement Conference:

2019 Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement Office of the Year: 

  • Deputy Chris Bedker, King County Sheriff’s Office Marine Rescue Dive Unit.
    Deputy Bedker was recognized for his leadership roles in search and rescue, vessel operations, marine law enforcement and diving. Bedker is highly regarded for his calm and effective leadership and for cooperating with multiple agencies — including police, fire and emergency management — in responding to water-based critical incidents.
King County Deputy Bedker, Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
King County Deputy Chris Bedker (second from left) accepts the award for Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the year.


Recreational Boating Safety Education Merit Awards:

  • Deputies Brett Anderson, Scott Gilberti and Shaun Robertson, Clark County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit
    The deputies were recognized for increasing awareness and access to boating and boating safety, and especially for increasing recreational boaters’ use of personal flotation devices. They took the initiative to build and maintain 10 life jacket loaner stations at various boat launches on lakes in Clark County.
  • Deputy Travis Pendell, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit
    Deputy Pendell was recognized for organizing and teaching 10 boating education safety classes, with 200 students passing in 2019 alone. He also set up a boating safety class at Medical Lake High School. As a result of his mentorship, most of the school’s graduating class earned mandatory boating safety cards.
  • Sergeant Greg Sanders, Marine Services Supervisor, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
    Snohomish county once had one of the highest drowning fatality rates in Washington state. Under Sergeant Sanders’ leadership and communications direction, which included numerous campaigns on social media and at schools and events, drowning-related deaths declined significantly. Sanders also developed a “slow-water” enforcement team, which patrols small lakes and certain rivers in kayaks. 

Recreational Boating Safety Life Saving Award:

  • Corporal Allan Thonney, Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office
    While conducting vessel inspections on a dock on the Snake River during Operation Dry Water, Corporal Thonney was notified that a 13-year-old girl was in the water, not wearing a life jacket and in obvious distress. Thonney rescued the girl.
  • Officer John Novak, Seattle Harbor Patrol
    Officer Novak was on duty during SeaFair when he was notified by boaters that a person on a nearby boat has suffered a severe injury, likely due to having been cut by a propeller. Novak found the victim, who was bleeding from his femoral artery. Novak was able to help stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the victim’s groin with his knee and applying a tourniquet while at the same time directing medics to the scene. The victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center and survived.

Before announcing the awards, Washington State Parks Boating Program Specialist Hoyle Hodges also acknowledged several Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers and Island County Sheriff’s Office for a their  May 2019 rescue of passengers aboard a whale-watching boat that struck a rock and ran aground on Smith Island: WDFW Police Officers Nathaniel Munn, Natalie Hale, Kelly Denny and Zach Stevenson and Sergeant Russ Mullins; and Deputy Chris Garden, Island County Sheriff’s Office.

Nomination process
Anyone can nominate an officer —in writing — for any of the awards.  Nominations are vetted by Marine Law Enforcement staff and the State Parks’ Boating Program manager.

Note to media: For more photos of award recipients, contact Christina Fremont with the Boating Program.

About the Washington State Boating Program
Washington State Parks administers the state’s Boating Program, which provides leadership in boating safety and environmental education and outreach. The goal of the program is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of Washington waterways, and keep recreational boating a safe, accessible and enjoyable pastime. For more information on the Boating Program, visit: https://parks.state.wa.us/Boating

News media contacts:
Christina Fremont, Boating Program, (360) 902-8837
Toni Droscher, Communications Office, (360) 902-8604

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About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

 News release number: 19-076

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