On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, San Bernardino County Undersheriff Shannon Dicus presented the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) Medal of Valor to five Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Air Rescue 5 helicopter crew members for their effort, skill, determination, and commitment during the search and recovery operation of SBSD Search and Rescue (SAR) member Timothy Staples.
Staples was one of 126 people across 23 teams searching for Sreenivas “Sree” Mokkapati, who was reported missing on December 8, 2019, after becoming separated from his group while ascending Mount Baldy. Staples’ partner on the search and rescue team alerted the sheriff’s department on Saturday that he had become separated from Staples. Despite inclement weather conditions and treacherous terrain, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5 helicopter crew located Staples in “an area of ice and snow.” He was unresponsive, and a crew member lowered to Staples determined he was dead.
Even though the operation turned into a recovery, the crew’s efforts still demonstrate the dangerous working conditions search and rescue personnel face every day. “In my opinion, the LASD has one of the best search and rescue programs in the nation, and the Flight Deputies and Crew of Air 5 are the cream of the crop,” said Sheriff Villanueva.
San Bernardino County Undersheriff Shannon Dicus presented the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor to Los Angeles County Air Rescue 5 Crew member Deputies Todd Kocisko, Scott Helbing, Steve Pratt, Jennifer Shepard, and Sergeant Dave Carver for their act of bravery during the operation.