Public Information Officer
It was early in the morning on April 2, and Christina Stokes’ ex-boyfriend had just paid her an unwelcome visit that would end in death.
Stokes lay slumped in the doorway of her DeBary home, horror-struck by a brutal knife attack that lacerated her trachea and spleen, causing blood to rapidly spew out of her body. Barely conscious, Stokes managed to pick up the phone and dial 911. Then she said she waited to feel her attacker’s metal blade slice through her body again and surely end her life. Instead, she saw who she now refers to as her guardian angel, Volusia County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ralph Brown. The first officer to arrive on the scene, Sergeant Brown would have no way of knowing that the suspect had already fled the scene and would hang himself from a tree about a half-mile from Stokes’ home. Without a moment to spare, Sergeant Brown never stopped to check the house, secure his own safety or even don his protective gloves. Instead, he immediately bent down and cradled the victim while applying direct pressure to the wounds to help staunch the flow of blood until paramedics arrived. All the while, Sergeant Brown assured Stokes that she would be O.K.
Stokes has since recovered from the attack. On Thursday, she had an emotional reunion with Sergeant Brown, who was presented with the Sheriff’s Office Medal of Valor for his life-saving heroics. “You are a true hero,” Sheriff Ben Johnson told Sergeant Brown after presenting him with his medal. If not for Sergeant Brown’s courage, calm and swift intervention, said Sheriff Johnson, “we would not have Christina here today.” Flanked by family members, Stokes gave Sergeant Brown an emotional hug. Too choked up to speak, a relative read a statement from Stokes. “I am so grateful to Sergeant Brown for going above and beyond the call of duty. Every day, when I look in my daughter’s eyes, I think of my guardian angel, Ralph Brown,” Stokes said in the statement. “I guess we all have our guardian angels. Sometimes they don’t have wings. Sometimes, they just have stars on their shirts.”
In the end, the normally chatty Sergeant Brown humbly shrugged off talk of heroics with a few brief words. “It’s just part of the job,” said Sergeant Brown. “I’m very proud of you, Ralph,” added Sheriff Johnson. The Medal of Valor is the department’s second-highest award. Thursday was just the second time Sheriff Johnson has awarded the medal since he took office in 2001.
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