Local Hero: Flagler sheriff’s Sergeant Michael Van Buren named ‘Deputy of the Year’

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Source: Daytona BeachNews-Journal

BUNNELL — The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s annual awards luncheon was held Dec. 16 at the new sheriff’s operations center.

With the Community Chorus of Palm Coast singing holiday songs, employees, family, friends and guests gathered to eat lunch and recognize those who went above and beyond during 2015, according to a media release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Awards and recipients include:

Deputy of the Year

Sgt. Michael Van Buren has been a member of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office since 1987, where “he has displayed professional judgment and years of experience.” Sheriff Jim Manfre called Van Buren “an asset … to the community he serves” and “the epitome of commitment, not only to the agency but to the public he serves.”

Lifesaving Medals

Sgt. Mike Van Buren, CSI Lainie Weibling, and Deputies Joe Barnett, Greg Nunziato and Bret Wood were honored for their collective effort to save the life of a missing 4-year-old boy on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Lawton Lapete was found in a hot vehicle and may have been there up to an hour before rescuers arrived. Deputies worked to reduce his core temperature and resuscitated him before he was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler and later to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, averting a tragic outcome. Each member played an integral role, from finding the child to resuscitating him, to visiting him in the hospital.

Palm Coast resident Lenix Thorne was recognized for his actions after he heard a commotion across from his home. He found an unresponsive 16-month-old child, the result of a near-drowning. He performed CPR on the child until law enforcement officers arrived to continue rescue efforts and the child survived.

Awarded to Deputy Jonathan Kuleski for his work in responding to a medical call on Royal Tern Lane. He performed CPR on the male victim until rescue arrived on scene. His quick actions resulted in ensuring the patient got a chance he may not have otherwise had.

Meritorious Service Medals

Sgt. Michael Van Buren and Deputies James Crosbee, Fiona Ebrill and George Hristakopoulos were honored for their efforts Sept. 14 to diffuse a potentially deadly situation after responding to a call advising that a Palm Coast woman was armed with a loaded gun. After refusing to comply with the commands to drop the weapon, the woman had directed her weapon toward Hristakopoulos when Van Buren deployed his Dart Firing Stun Gun, subduing her. The team was recognized for excellence in issuing verbal commands and following procedure.


Congratulations to All other award recipients.  Jobs, well done!!!

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