Deputy Erik Rueppel

Medal of Valor

On August 3, 2015, at approximately 1832 hours, your and Deputy Whitted’s attention was directed to a vehicle accident at the grade crossing behind you. The vehicle had skidded through the intersection of West Evelyn Avenue and Mary Avenue, colliding with a crossing arm tower. The vehicle was stopped on the northbound tracks and disabled as a result of the collision.

You both ran towards the site of the collision to assess the driver’s well-being. As you arrived on scene, you both realized that the northbound train was just south of the Mary Avenue Grade Crossing and heading toward the disabled vehicle at approximately 50 mph. You ran south on the right of way, waving your arms and shouting, trying desperately to get the engineer’s attention so they could start emergency braking of the train. Deputy Whitted ran to the vehicle and made contact with the driver, who was conscious but incapacitated behind the wheel. Deputy Whitted pulled the driver from the vehicle and started to help him away from the accident site when the driver fell to the ground. Deputy Whitted grabbed the driver’s arm and dragged him clear of the impending debris field. The train then struck the vehicle.

Without regard for your safety, you and Deputy Whitted courageously and selflessly saved the driver’s life. Without your intervention, the driver would have been behind the wheel of his vehicle and would not have survived the impact of the 500 ton commuter train. You both acted without hesitation or reservation and never gave thought to your own well-being or the danger you were in. You bravely risked great bodily injury to save the life of another human being.

You are to be commended for your professionalism and dedication to duty.

Dated:  September 29, 2015


Greg Munks, Sheriff
County of San Mateo