WHITTIER — A Whittier police officer was awarded the department’s Medal of Valor Friday for his rescue attempt of an elderly couple who ultimately died following a massive fire last year at their Kinley Avenue home.
Officer Jerry Reyes received the Whittier Police Department’s highest honor Friday at the agency’s annual Silver Shield Awards ceremony, held at the Richard Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, according to Whittier police Lt. Carlos Solorza.
Ronald Brownell Wanke, 87, and his wife Margaret Chesney Wanke, 84, died following the Sept. 2 fire in the 500 block of N. Kinley Street. Investigators said it appeared Ronald Wanke was overcome by the blaze while trying to rescue his wife, who had difficulty moving due to a hip injury.
Reyes entered the home as it was engulfed in flames in an attempted to rescue the elderly couple, but he himself was overcome by the smoke and ended up at the hospital, officials said.