Officers Recognized With Meritorious Service Award for Jan. 2020 Boater Rescue

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From left, Marine Patrol Officer Trevor Wessells, Conservation Police Sgt. Steve Garvis, and Conservation Police officer Anthony Pennino pose after Wessells and Pennino were awarded meritorious service medals by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The awards recognized the men’s heroic actions in helping to rescue three boaters whose boat capsized in dangerous conditions Jan. 19, 2020. Garvis was awarded a meritorious service medal earlier in connection with the same incident. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

By Carol Vaughn —

Marine Patrol Officer Trevor Wessells and Conservation Police Officer Anthony Pennino were awarded the meritorious service award, the second highest award given by the Virginia Wildlife Resources Conservation Police.
The awards were given in a ceremony Friday in Onley. Conservation Police Sgt. Steve Garvis previously accepted an award for actions taken during the same incident.
The awards were given in recognition of the men’s actions on Jan. 19, 2020, when they responded to a call reporting a capsized boat with three people in the water.
Three men from Virginia Beach had to be rescued after their boat capsized during a duck hunting trip in Accomack County. The three launched from Hacks Neck in a 16-foot boat before bad weather caused the boat to capsize.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries received a distress call around 5:45 p.m. that day, according to a press release.
The officers at their own great personal risk went out to try to save the boaters.
Winds were around 20 to 25 miles per hour and the air temperature was around 35 degrees during the rescue.
“Facing dangerous environmental conditions, the three officers coordinated their response and launched their patrol boats in an attempt to save the boaters,” according to the award description.
“They actually cancelled a waterfowl patrol that night because the conditions were deteriorating so bad,” Garvis said during the ceremony.
“When the call came in that a boat had overturned on Nandua Creek and three people were in the water, Marine Police Officer Trevor Wessells dispatched himself from his house, and a lot of things came together that night and it was successful,” Garvis said.
All three hunters were rescued successfully and were taken to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital for treatment for hypothermia.

From left, Major Milton Robinson, Conservation Police Manager; Accomack County Sheriff Todd Wessells; Marine Patrol Officer Trevor Wessells; Conservation Police officer Anthony Pennino; and Col. Matt Rogers, Virginia Marine Police, pose after Trevor Wessells and Pennino were awarded meritorious service medals by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The awards recognized the men’s heroic actions in helping to rescue three boaters whose boat capsized in dangerous conditions Jan. 19, 2020. Conservation Police Sgt. Steve Garvis was awarded a meritorious service medal earlier in connection with the same incident. Photo by Carol Vaughn.