Meet the Verizon Wireless VITA Award Winners

Meet the Verizon Wireless VITA Award Winners

Verizon Wireless salutes our customers, from coast-to-coast, who use their wireless phones to summon help during emergencies. This year's Verizon Wireless VITA (latin for "life") Samaritans are Jean Crouch of Washington, Angela Smith of Washington, D.C., Joshua and Caleb Leak of California, Bill White of Ohio, and Grace Coleman, representing an anonymous woman, of Pennsylvania.

CTIA began the annual VITA Wireless Samaritan Awards in 1993 to recognize the outstanding public service of individuals who use their wireless phones to save lives, stop crimes and get emergency assistance. A select panel of individuals from law enforcement and emergency response services judge the nominees for each state across the country. The wireless Samaritans will be recognized at a VITA Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 5th.


Jean Crouch of

Concrete, Washington

"We are in an airplane and we're
going down ..."

Joe and Jean Crouch

While on a recreational flight from Concrete, Washington, Joe and Jean Crouch's plane engine died in mid-air so the couple prepared for an emergency landing. While Joe concentrated on landing the plane safely, Jean grabbed her Verizon Wireless phone and called 911 for assistance. Ultimately the plane crashed into trees, giving Jean a concussion, which sent her into shock. Joe took the phone from his wife, staying on the line with an emergency dispatcher to give directions to the plane. After deputies located the plane in the huge timberland area, the couple was transported to the hospital where Joe was treated for leg injuries, and Jean was treated for injuries to her face and hip. The couple credits their wireless phone and the teamwork of the dispatchers for their rescue.

Angela Smith

Angela Smith

of Washington, DC

She did what no other onlooker dared ...

At the end of a long work day, Angela Smith parked a few blocks from her apartment building and walked toward her home. This familiar neighborhood was full of children riding their bikes and scooters as the daylight slipped away. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spied a crowd of onlookers gathered around a woman who was repeatedly punching a terrified seven-year-old boy. Angela immediately used her Verizon Wireless phone to call 911 for help. As she waited for the police, she did what no one else would do - she confronted the abuser. But the woman took the child into her own apartment while Angela waited for the police. Although Angela was distressed to learn the woman had a long history of child abuse, she was pleased to find out that her quick-thinking phone call saved the helpless little boy.


Grace Coleman

of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Representing an
anonymous woman, "Mary"
Mobile phone thwarts assailant ...

Grace Coleman

Crisis Center North (CCN) is a domestic violence assistance program north of Pittsburgh that has been working with Verizon Wireless to collect and recycle donated wireless phones for use by its clients. Since CCN is a non-residential program, clients still live in the community - many with or near their abusers. The following is an account of "Mary's" experience.

Mary entered the local hospital with her face beaten black and blue. Her bruises were so severe that doctors were not able to determine if her nose or cheekbones were broken. Mary met with a CCN representative who provided support and immediately gave her a pre-programmed Verizon Wireless phone; Mary did not have a phone in her home. The following day, Mary's abuser broke through her backyard fence and attempted to enter her home. Mary used her emergency wireless phone to call the police, and they arrived at her home within minutes. Her donated emergency phone probably saved her life.

Bill White

Bill White

Major Account Executive,

Cleveland, Ohio

It definitely wasn't weather for sightseeing...

While driving with his two-year-old son on I-480 in Cleveland, Bill
White saw a woman standing against a bridge railing. "It was cold and rainy," he recalls of the dreary December day. "It definitely wasn't weather for sight-seeing. She was facing away from the bridge, looking out over the edge. It was pretty clear that she was preparing to jump."

The bridge is about a mile long and sits some 200 feet above a valley. Bill desperately wanted to call 911, but he didn't feel it was safe to do so while driving over the bridge. Once he was sure he could dial safely, Bill used his wireless phone to call the police. Officers arrived in time to talk the woman off the railing and out of her suicide attempt.


Joshua and Caleb Leak

of Temecula, California


Caleb and Joshua Leak

Tony Leak and his two sons Caleb (15) and Joshua (17) left for a climbing trip to Mount Ranier one day in July. On the fifth day of the climb at a 14,411-foot peak, Tony and the boys were preparing for bed in what they thought would be a safe location. Just as they were about to get into their sleeping bags, a rock avalanche hit, leaving Tony buried and unconscious with a broken neck and back. Believing his father was dying, Caleb dialed 911 on their now-battered wireless phone. The boys were put in touch with a climbing ranger who ultimately organized a helicopter to make the final rescue. Tony was taken to a nearby hospital. Tony is still recovering today but is very thankful to be alive. Tony felt very fortunate to have the cell phone - and his sons' quick thinking - on the climb.