Those who gave comfort, aid honored

County residents, officers recognized during ceremony, part of Victims' Rights Week

May 04, 2008

A Catonsville mother saw the crash on an Anne Arundel County road and stopped to help a father and son who had been hit by a Honda Accord as they prepared to change a flat tire on their Chevy Trailblazer.

And an off-duty Fort Meade paramedic rushed to the scene after hearing the accident reported on his scanner.

Christina Adamitis and Capt. James E. Goetz both offered "great comfort and aid," victim advocate Meg Haward said of the help the two provided that winter morning in 2006 at the scene of the crash, where John Dick and his 12-year-old son Tyler lay, each missing one of his legs.

Adamitis and Goetz were among those honored last week by the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office as part of Victims' Rights Week, a nationwide commemoration.

John and Tyler Dick of Pasadena, both in wheelchairs, watched as Haward presented plaques to Adamitis and Goetz inside a packed courtroom at the county courthouse.

"I just think it's great to sit here and talk to them," said John Dick. "I always think, `What if he wasn't there? Would someone else know what to do?'"

Goetz applied a tourniquet to John Dick. "I do believe I was there for a purpose," Goetz said. "The outcome was great, and I thank God for that."

Adamitis calmed Tyler and his father, gently talking to them, while her teenage son called 911.

"I always thought that if something like this would happen, I'd flip out," Adamitis said, "So I surprised myself."

Also honored were two county police officers for what victim advocate Maria Putzi called their "unparalleled commitment" to the victims of domestic violence.

Cpl. Sue Pugliese, a 28-year veteran of the Western District, and Cpl. Jonas Ignatavicus, a 31-year-veteran of the Northern District, are original members of the county's DVOTEE program, which assists domestic violence victims.

Pugliese, who is set to retire in October, called the recognition "a wonderful end to my career," which, according to Putzi, included countless times when she accompanied victims to the hospital or court hearings, acts not required of her.

Ignatavicus, whose nickname is "Iggy," also has earned the admiration of the victims he has helped over the years, Putzi said.

"I couldn't have done it without Iggy," Putzi quoted one victim. Another victim, a woman, had sought his assistance in breaking free from a physically abusive husband. One night she called 911, and asked simply, "Is Iggy there?"

"Perhaps just as incredible is the fact that the 911 operator knew exactly whose assistance she was seeking," Putzi said.

"We give each other a lot of support," Ignatavicus said of Pugliese. "Being in the field, it's easier to be able to talk to someone when you have a tough day in the field. And you're always looking for new ideas."

County Sheriff's Deputy Ted Vanorsdale received an award for helping to make possible a meeting between the families of three murder victims and the man who later pleaded guilty to the crimes.

For the families, it was "a highly emotional event," meeting with the accused in a conference room at the courthouse. As part of his plea agreement, the defendant had to sit with the families and answer their questions.

Vanorsdale accompanied the family members and designed a security plan to ensure their safety.

"It's emotional," Vanorsdale said. "Our hearts go out to the family, but at the same time, you have to be professional."

Among those others honored were two women who helped to identify the shooter in a first degree murder case; Shelly Glenn, a county prosecutor; and the county's Traffic Safety Division.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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