What you need to know: Governor Gavin Newsom recognized California Highway Patrol officers Ryan Ayers and Kenneth Weckman for their actions that went above and beyond the call of duty by awarding them with the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor – the highest state award for valor presented to a public safety officer.
“The heroes we are honoring today are men who showed extraordinary compassion, bravery, and sacrifice,” said Governor Newsom. “Officers Ayers and Weckam are examples of the California spirit, our dedication to each other, and to doing the right thing. I am proud to recognize their heroic efforts and work.”
On August 6, 2021, Officer Ryan Ayers was off duty driving on US 101 in San Luis Obispo, California, when he observed a crash involving a semi-truck which ran off the road. Officer Ayers climbed down the hillside to access the cab of the truck and found the driver unconscious. As the vehicle began to fill with smoke, Officer Ayers, without regard for his own safety, cleared debris to access the driver. Officer Ayers was able to safely remove the driver seconds prior to the vehicle becoming fully engulfed in flames.
On December 6, 2021, Officer Kenneth Weckman was dispatched to a vehicle blocking the roadway in Marysville, California. As Officer Weckman investigated the abandoned vehicle, he found a woman in crisis in a canal, attempting to smother a small child in the dirt and water. Officer Weckman immediately attempted to rescue the child from the woman, as she violently resisted. After a struggle, Officer Weckman was able to save the child from the muddy waters. With the assistance of other officers who arrived on scene, the woman was safely taken into custody.