Community, The Braxton Democrat

Braxton Native Among First Responder Medal of Valor Honorees

Senators Vince Deeds, (R) Greenbrier County, passionately spoke to his body of the legislature on Tuesday, about Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 which he introduced in late January. The formal recognition honors first responders with the State’s Medal of Valor. SCR 24 recognizes the heroic acts of three individuals, including a Braxton County native, in conjunction with an incident that occurred on June 16, 2022.
The Medal of Valor is presented to firefighters, law-enforcement officers, emergency medical services personnel, and other professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their professional capacity. Nominations for the Medal of Valor are presented to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House for consideration by the West Virginia Legislature. In addition to Long, SCR 24 honors West Virginia State Police Corporal David S. Fry, and Upshur County Sheriff John Michael Coffman.
On June 16, 2022, Derek V. Long, a Sutton native and graduate of Braxton County High School, observed what he believed was a motor vehicle accident on Interstate 79, near Buckhannon. Long, who now serves as Upshur County Department of Homeland Security/County Emergency Manager, Deputy Director, stopped, initiated the emergency vehicle lights on his vehicle and attempted to assist at the scene. As Long exited his vehicle, the perpetrator began discharging a firearm. Derek Long retreated, provided emergency radio transmission to Upshur County 9-1-1 and positioned his vehicle in such a manner as to block the Interstate traffic to prevent innocent motorists from being injured by the perpetrator.
Upon learning of the active shooting situation, John Michael Coffman, who at the time held the position of Chief Deputy, but now is the Sheriff of Upshur County, responded to the scene. Sheriff Coffman immediately exited his vehicle and attempted to usher motorists away from the continuing barrage of gun fire. As Sheriff Coffman attempted to retrieve his long gun from his vehicle, Sheriff Coffman was shot. As the gunfire continued, Lewis County Sheriff David Gosa assisted Deputy Director Long in loading Sheriff Coffman into his patrol vehicle. While still under fire, Long drove Sheriff Coffman from the crime scene to the hospital, where Sheriff Coffman underwent emergency surgery.
The third honoree was Corporal David Fry of the West Virginia State Police. In the early morning hours of March 28, 2017, Corporal Fry responded to an active domestic violence situation in Lincoln County. Upon entering the residence, Corporal Fry engaged the aggressor involved in the domestic violence situation and a gun fight ensued. During the gun fight, Corporal Fry was shot two times and the victim in the domestic violence incident was able to escape the residence unharmed. The perpetrator was ultimately arrested, convicted, and is currently incarcerated in prison.
The Resolution read in part… “The West Virginia Legislature is honored to recognize the nominees with the Medal of Valor for their actions that went above and beyond the call of duty, regardless of their personal safety, in an attempt to protect human life…”