2021 Award Nomination Recipients

The CSPEPA Board would like to recognize the following individuals for performance in their duties that exceeded expectations and their responsibilities.

Chatfield State Park Nominations:

Steven Veaughn – Valor Award

Kyle Weber – Lifesaving Award

Kennedy Miller (Seasonal Ranger) – Lifesaving Award

Matthew Florez (Seasonal Ranger) – Lifesaving Award

Joseph Burkhart (Seasonal Ranger) – Lifesaving Award

Kimberly Diede (Park Visitor) – Exceptional Service Award

Quinn Diede (Park Visitor) – Citizen Award

Dear Board Members:

Chatfield Staff is requesting your consideration to bestow the Valor Award on Steven Veaughn. We also request you bestow the Lifesaving Award on Kyle Weber, Kennedy Miller, Matthew Florez, and Joseph Burkhart. In addition to these, we request you bestow the Exceptional Service Award on Kimberly Diede and the Citizen Award on Quinn Diede. These awards are related to their successful efforts to save the life of a 4yr old drowning victim and her family when their boat capsized. We are filled with tremendous pride for what they have done and admiration of the strength of character they have shown. Please use the information below in considering them for the above awards.

On August 22, 2021 at approximately 18:55, Officer Veaughn, received a pulse point notification on his cell phone stating there was a water emergency near the centerline of Chatfield reservoir. Officer Veaughn immediately headed to the south boat ramps to repsond on the water.

At the same time Temporary Unarmed Park Rangers Joseph Burkhart and Matthew Florez were out in a boat on the reservoir and began heading to the water rescue. Florez and Burkhart were able to locate and begin rescue approximately 30 seconds after the incident was called in.

Temporary Unarmed Park Ranger Kennedy Miller and Veaughn arrived at the South Boat Ramp at the same approximate time. When they arrived at the incident location they found one capsized boat, one civilian rescue boat and the other patrol boat. The civilian rescue boat operated by Kimberly Diede had been loaded with numerous victims (other family members of the child) all of which appeared to be shocked but conscious. The other patrol boat had Quinn Diede on board who had been in the water helping the victims board his boat.

Burkhart stated that a small child was still trapped underneath the vessel and was wearing a life jacket so she was floating into the overturned vessel. Both patrol boats attempted to flip the capsized vessel which was unsuccessful. While the search of the missing child continued Kimberly Diede was able to successfully get all of the other victims to the south boat ramps where they were checked out by paramedics.

Veaughn jumped into the water at great personal risk due to significant floating debris from the vessel as well as significant wave action. Veaughn swam towards the vessel where he clung to the bow of the overturned vessel. There were numerous wires that seemed to be coming from an electric column that were hanging into the water as well as rope floating and attached to the vessel. Veaughn attempted to swim underneath the vessel in order to grab on to the child. Veaughn became tangled in the debris and was forced resurface.

While Veaughn was in the water Quinn Diede jumped back in to help him search of the child. Veaughn then began sweeping his legs underneath the vessel in an attempt to get the child out from under the boat. Veaughn was able to push the child toward the side of the boat. Because of Veaughn’s help Diede was able to reach underneath the boat and grab the child. Diede carrying the child and Veaughn swam to the patrol boat with Burkhart and Florez on it. They were able to get the child on the patrol boat and Florez began CPR while Burkhart drove the boat back to the dock. On the trip back Veaughn helped with CPR and back thrusts as well as removing aspirated materials from the victim’s mouth and nose between compressions.

When the boat reached the south boat ramp Officer Weber took the child from Veaughn and rushed her to the South Metro Fire and Rescue personnel who were able to take over lifesaving procedures. South Metro transported the child to the hospital where she survived the drowning.

Due to the quick actions of this group of people a little girl’s life was saved as well the lives of her family members who had been in the water with her. Without this group working quickly and professionally there could have been a much worse outcome. In addition to the group lifesaving effort, Veaughn and Quinn Diede acted selflessly in their efforts to find and save the missing child. They both demonstrated bravery, and adaptability under great stress. It is for the these reasons that we ask you to bestow the Valor Award on Veaughn, the Lifesaving Award on Miller, Burkhart, Florez, and Weber, the Exceptional Service Award on Kimberly Diede and the Citizen Award on Quinn Diede.

Thank you,

Chatfield Staff

St Vrain State Park Nominations:

Scott Reffel – Lifesaving Award

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to nominate Scott Reffel, park ranger stationed at St. Vrain State Park for a lifesaving award for a near drowning lifesaving incident that occurred on 03 February 2021. These are the events that occurred:

At approximately 14:15 hours, Officer Reffel was on routine patrol of the park, but the ensuing moments were anything but routine. Ranger Reffel, can’t explain why, but he decided to veer from a regular route and approached Coot Pond from the south, upon approach he sees a victim, later identified as Mark Albiani, ¾ submerged in the water surrounded by ice, approximately 25 feet from shore.
Without hesitation, Officer Reffel makes an emergency call to park staff, then switches to statewide CSP dispatch, requesting additional emergency rescue resources. Reffel makes verbal contact with the victim, reassuring him that he will be rescued; days later Reffel’s throat is still sore from yelling as loud as he could while getting into his ice rescue suit. Reffel, now in his ice rescue suit, which only takes moments but feels like it’s taking forever, tosses his throw bag and Albiani grabs the line but can’t hold on, Scott now realizes his only option is a “go”. At this moment Park Resource Technician, Jim Trotter and off duty Senior Ranger Sean Dunlavy are on scene attaching him to the rescue rope.

Anyone that has ever been trained in ice rescue operations or fishing knows, you have to have a reel, a line, and a hook and that the people on the end of your rescue line are just as important as the rescuer going in the water; to that end, I would also like to recognize Jim Trotter and Sean Dunlavy for their heroic supporting efforts in this incident.

Ranger Reffel, approaches the victim and is within feet when he realizes his rescue line is not hooked up correctly, so he unhooks his lifeline and secures the victim, enters the ice hole and signals for the reel as he selflessly pushes the victim out of the water onto the ice. The victim is pulled to shore and placed into a heated patrol vehicle. Reffel now has to self-rescue with the remaining strength and adrenaline he has and returns to shore where he is surrounded by his brothers and sisters from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Firestone Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and the Firestone Frederick Fire Protection District.

In other ways, Officer Reffel has been preparing for this moment his entire professional life. As a very young man, Scott worked as a lifeguard at Water World in Thornton, CO. His passion for water safety has led him to become a Boat Safety Instructor and is responsible for our Water Operations at St. Vrain State Park. Scott spends many hours as a safety instructor and many more preparing our boat, and ice rescue programs, he is constantly measuring ice in the winter and providing information to the public and to our staff. He is passionate about water safety and his enthusiasm is contagious. He would want me to note that the ice fisherman was wearing a P.F.D., as we always recommend, and this also contributed to this soul being saved.
Ben Pedrett, Park Manager

In most lifesaving situations, there is a bit of luck involved; in this situation, Scott was in the right position at just the right time. Had Ranger Reffel patrolled a different direction or been there 10 minutes before or 10 minutes later, I fear the victim would have certainly drowned, as no other visitors were ice fishing on the same pond or even walking around the trail at that time and wouldn’t have heard the victims calls for help.

Stagecoach State Park Nominations:

Tabitha Callies – Lifesaving Award

It is my honor to nominate the following CPW employee for Colorado State Parks Employee Protective Association’s Lifesaving Award.

On the afternoon of September 25th, Park Ranger Tabitha Callies was at the Stagecoach Park office working on administrative tasks when she heard calls for help outside the office. Tabitha walked out to find a distressed individual who began telling her that his wife was unable to breath, and that she was having an allergic reaction to a bug bite. Tabitha immediately requested that dispatch send EMS and offered to help the victim.

Upon reaching the victim, Tabitha who is currently enrolled in EMT school, began assessing her situation. She quickly recognized the symptoms of anaphylaxis. She inquired whether the victim had an epinephrine pen, which she had prescribed to her, but did not have in her possession. In the 12 minutes from when Tabitha made contact with the victim, until the ambulance arrived on scene, her symptoms became visibly worse. After helping load the victim onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, the Oak Creek Fire Chief asked Tabitha if she would be willing to drive the ambulance to the hospital so that both EMTs could provide care. Tabitha not only jumped in willingly, but when they met with Steamboat Springs Fire part way to the hospital, and transferred the victim in order to provide advanced life support, Tabitha jumped into that ambulance and drove the rest of the way to the hospital.

Upon returning to the park, Tabitha went out of her way to locate the family and friends of the victim in the campground, and let them know that she and her husband were at the hospital and receiving care. Before the end of the shift that night, Tabitha found an email address for the husband of the victim using the reservation system, and sent an email offering that he could contact her via cell phone should they need anything.

Tabitha’s efforts on the evening of September 25th clearly saved the life of the victim. When I spoke with the Chief of the Oak Creek Fire Department, he told me that he was amazed by her willingness and ability to jump into a completely foreign situation. The fact that she was able to confidently and competently drive two different ambulances having never been trained to do so was impressive to him. In addition to providing the care needed to ensure that the victim survived, Tabitha went out of her way to ensure that this difficult situation was made as bearable as possible for the victim and her family. It is based on these actions that I proudly nominate Tabitha Callies for CSPEPA’s Lifesaving Award.

Guthrie Lowe, Senior Park Ranger


Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Nominations:

Jeffrey Hammond – Lifesaving Award

Please accept my nomination for Jeffrey Hammond for the lifesaving award. On July 3 2021 witnessed a suicidal party on the side of HWY 24/285. The male was sitting on top of the bridge railing with his legs over the edge and was looking down towards the river below. Jeff noticed that he appeared to be in emotional distress. Jeff turned his work vehicle around and notified dispatch.

As Jeff walked towards him there were two other people passing by that had noticed him as well. The three of them contacted him and he told them he was trying to work up the courage to jump off. Jeff and the other two individuals were able to talk him off the railing and Jeff quickly escorted him to his patrol vehicle. Jeff asked for a response from Sol Vista who is a local mental healthcare provider. Jeff transported the party to the hospital where they were met by a Sol Vista team member.

Jeff’s awareness and courage to stop and help saved a life that day. Jeff is an excellent officer, always aware and available to help when needed. Please consider awarding him the Lifesaving Award..

Thanks, Tom Waters
Lifetime Achievement Award: