MANATEE -- Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube on Friday honored three deputies and a civilian employee during his agency's annual awards luncheon Friday.
The honorees were Deputy Joseph Scott, Deputy of the Year; Christopher Foy, Employee of the Year; Deputy Thomas Beckerleg, 2013 Robert E. Molter Volunteer of the Year,
and Detective James Wischer, the Bealls Humanitarian of the Year.
Detective Todd Sellitto introduced the deputy and employee of the year.
Deputy Scott was off duty at a swimming pool with neighbors April 14 when one of the children at the party went missing, Sellitto said.
Scott located the child face down in the pool. The deputy pulled the unresponsive child out and performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.
"Your quick actions saved a child's life," Sellitto said.
After the ceremony Friday, the deputy was in shock.
"I feel overwhelmed, not worthy" Scott said.
He said he was thankful for the training he received.
"It allowed me to be able to do this," Scott said. "Without training I would not have been able to save that little girl."
Foy was honored as employee of the year for his rapid and vital response
while fishing with his brother in Big Pass, Sarasota, on June 22.
Foy heard someone screaming for help and dove in to assist the victim of a jet ski accident, as he soon discovered, Sellito said. He swam the victim to shore, keeping his head above water, and held him close to the rocks near a jetty until EMS arrived.
"The outcome of this incident would not have been the same without your selflessness, courage, and quick action," Sellito said.
Deputy Beckerleg was honored for touching the lives of students, a reflection of the ideals of the Robert E. Molter Volunteer of the Year award. Molter's widow and son, Faith and Dan Molter, introduced the award.
In the past three years, Beckerleg has averaged more than 100 volunteer hours coaching track and field at Manatee High School.
"You are a positive role model for the student athletes, using sports as a common ground to communicate and influence them towards high moral character and good conduct," Faith Molter said. "You represent MSO well, demonstrating that law enforcement officers are actively involved in our community."
Following the ceremony, Beckerleg said he had no idea he was even nominated.
"I'm just passionate about track and field, I've been throwing javelin," Beckerleg said. "I've been coaching since right after high school, I try to give back to the community."
Wischer was honored as Bealls Humanitarian of the Year for becoming a champion for children victimized by sexual abuse and exploitation after being a survivor himself.
Bealls division Vice President of Loss prevention Bill McLaughlin introduced the award.
"Through many years of struggle and seasons of pain, you have found triumph in a career to ensure that our most vulnerable young citizens are given a voice, with the law as their back-up," McLaughlin said.
Wischer's accomplishments include his book, The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf, the many high-profile cases in which he played an instrumental role in helping catch the bad guy and providing hope with the sharing of his story, McLaughlin said.
The luncheon concluded with some words and a year in review from Steube. This year, he focused on service.
"Whatever your assignment here at the sheriff's office is, you are serving the citizens," Steube said. "Many of you extend this service, as we have seen here."
Quoting the book of Romans from the bible, Steube got chocked up as he expressed his gratitude for their service.
"There is one constant in our community and the people need it, it's you," Steube said. "It's the men and women here at the sheriff's office and the service you provide, so I am so proud to be a part of this with you."
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.