Public Information Officer
To Volusia County Sheriff’s sergeant Mike Odgers and deputy Bryon Poteralski, they were just doing their jobs and had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time. But to everyone else, the two deputies who risked their lives to save a baby from a burning house in Deltona are genuine heroes.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Ben Johnson bestowed the agency’s second highest honor, the medal of valor, upon Odgers and Poteralski in recognition of their quick and brave actions that saved the life of a 1-year-old girl. It was the morning of March 12, and the house on Bath Street was engulfed in smoke and flames. Sheriff Johnson noted on Tuesday that another couple of minutes without intervention and the child almost certainly would have perished. “This child’s life would have been gone,” remarked Sheriff Johnson Tuesday morning during an awards ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office’s Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center in Daytona Beach. “I just can’t say enough good about both of you for the job you did.” And the assembled audience of co-workers obviously agreed, giving the two deputies a standing ovation.
Odgers and Poteralski were among the first to arrive at the scene of the fire. They were initially told that all of the occupants were out of the house. But suddenly, the family realized that their 1-year-old niece was still inside. Without a moment to spare, Odgers rushed through a rear door, but was forced to retreat after being overcome by extreme heat and heavy smoke. That’s when Poteralski broke out a bedroom window, climbed in, felt his way around the smoke-filled room and found the baby’s crib with the child inside. He scooped up the seemingly lifeless baby and shielded it from the smoke while passing her out the window to Odgers. Covered in soot and mucus, the motionless baby was rushed to awaiting paramedics for medical treatment for smoke inhalation and minor burns and has since recovered. “Sergeant Odgers and Deputy Poteralski acted with exceptional courage and bravery,” read the citation that accompanied the medals. “Their actions reflect great credit upon themselves and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Johnson capped off the ceremony by thanking the deputies for a job well done, chalking up their actions to a combination of bravery, humility and good training. “Thank you very much,” Sheriff Johnson told the two deputies. “Thanks from the bottom of all of our hearts.”
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151