BEDMINSTER, NJ — In conjunction with National Wireless Safety Week, The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) announced six Verizon Wireless customers as winners of its annual VITA Wireless Samaritan Awards. The CTIA panel of judges awarded Verizon Wireless customers Jean Crouch of Washington, Angela Smith of Washington, D.C., Joshua and Caleb Leak of California, Bill White of Ohio, and Grace Coleman of Pennsylvania the VITA (Latin for "Life") awards for using their phones to summon assistance during emergencies. The wireless Samaritans will be recognized at a VITA Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 5th.
Initiated in 1993, the VITA Wireless Samaritan Awards recognize the outstanding public service of individuals who use their wireless phones to save lives, stop crimes and quickly request help in emergencies. A select panel of individuals from law enforcement and emergency response services judged the more than 100 nominees.
"It's not every day we get to honor the heroics of citizens around us who've gone above and beyond to help save lives and protect their community," said Denny Strigl, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless. "We are proud of our VITA winners whose courageous stories demonstrate how wireless phones have become an essential safety tool, helping to save lives in emergency situations."
VERIZON WIRELESS VITA AWARD STORIES
WASHINGTON Jean Crouch of Concrete, Washington "We are in an airplane and we're going down ��." 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.
WASHINGTON, DC 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.
PENNSYLVANIA Grace Coleman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, representing an anonymous woman, "Mary" Mobile phone thwarts assailant�� 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.
OHIO 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.
CALIFORNIA Joshua and Caleb Leak of Temecula, California Avalanche! 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.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 27 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.