NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision 

Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

2011 Medal of Merit Recipients

Medal of Merit citation for:

Thomas Makeyenko, Correction Officer
John Matyas, Correction Officer
Louis Petricca, Correction Officer
Gowanda Correctional Facility

On October 20, 2010, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the operator of a vehicle traveling westbound on Interstate 90 drove off the north shoulder of the roadway and struck a tree. Trooper Joseph A. Zupo of the State Police Buffalo station responded to investigate the accident. Upon his arrival at the scene, he found Correction Officers Makeyenko, Matyas and Petricca attending to the operator who was on the ground outside of the vehicle. An investigation revealed that the operator had been rendered unconscious by the accident and he was initially trapped inside the burning vehicle. Correction Officers Makeyenko, Matyas and Petricca, along with two other people, witnessed the accident and helped extract the driver from the vehicle before it became fully engulfed in flames. Their immediate actions were instrumental in ensuring that the victim of this accident received prompt medical attention, which could have saved his life.

Sadly, the victim succumbed to his injuries approximately two weeks later.

Correction Officers Makeyenko, Matyas and Petricca's willingness to become involved in helping a fellow citizen reflects highly upon their character. Had they not risked their own personal safety to pull the victim from his burning vehicle, he would have had no chance of survival. They exercised great courage in the face of danger and their selfless disregard for their own well-being is commendable.

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Medal of Merit citation for:

Jean Gagnon, Correction Officer
Riverview Correctional Facility

On December 23, 2010, while vacationing in Las Vegas, Correction Officer Gagnon discovered the charred body of a woman in a wooded area near the Hoover Dam. Relying on his departmental training, Correction Officer Gagnon secured the scene and notified authorities. While waiting for authorities to arrive, Correction Officer Gagnon noticed a suspicious vehicle approach the area and leave. He recorded identifying information from the vehicle and relayed the information to authorities upon their arrival. Authorities stopped the vehicle and apprehended two individuals who eventually admitted to murdering the victim as well as returning to the scene to destroy evidence. As well as preserving the crime scene, Correction Officer Gagnon's actions allowed the homicide division of the Las Vegas Police Department to quickly apprehend two murderers.

Correction Officer Gagnon's quick thinking and commitment to justice are a testament to his outstanding professionalism.

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