VDOT News - Hampton Roads



Nina Ullrich 757-409-4376


Nov. 16, 2020

Workers receive accolades in the Category of Heroism

JAMESTOWN – Nine Jamestown-Scotland Ferry crew members received the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) 2020 Commissioner's Award for Life-Saving Response for rescuing three distressed teenagers from the James River in June 2019.

The Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Achievements is given out annually to provide the highest form of recognition for accomplishments above and beyond the usual expectations of work recognized as specific, outstanding achievements. The Heroism category focuses on providing emergency assistance and courageous actions under difficult and challenging conditions.

“It's not a common act to put others before ourselves,” said Christopher G. Hall, District Engineer for VDOT Hampton Roads when recognizing the crew members. “But our ferry crew did just that to save three swimmers. They had the proper training and made the selfless decision to help save another life, allowing these teenagers to return home to their families. They are heroes.”

In less than seven minutes, crew members saved three teenagers from drowning in seas 2-3 feet deep with the wind at 15 knots and waves crashing over them. Ferry crew continuously train to perform practice water rescues, in rough seas and in pressure packed situations, and are ready to act a moment’s notice.  

2020 Life-Saving Response Award recipients:

  1. Edward Brooks
  2. Reggie Kirton
  3. Nathan Bradley
  4. Greg Crocker
  5. Wayne Harper
  6. Joe Kisilywicz
  7. Tamara Montelo
  8. Hugh Payne
  9. Al Stokes

They each received a plaque and were recognized among their peers. Other Commissioner’s Award categories include Community Service and Volunteerism, Outstanding VDOT Employee, Outstanding VDOT Leader or Project Manager, Lifetime Achievement, Innovation, Environmental Stewardship, Outstanding Project Delivery or Partnership, and Outstanding Customer Service.


About the Rescue:

On Friday, June 14, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. while departing from Scotland and headed to Jamestown, Crewmember Bradley noticed a struggling swimmer upriver of the ferry pier being taken by the current, retrieved one of the ferry’s life rings, and worked with Captain Kirton to pull her to safety.  Two additional swimmers were swept under the pier, struggling to stay above water, and were too far to reach with a life ring. Crew deployed the rescue boat for the two boys and Crewmembers Harper and Crocker guided the boat toward the boys and pulled them aboard.

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