San Diego, California - Some were victims of sexual abuse, others victims of stabbing and gunshots. Some witnessed horrific events to family members. But all were brave, and this week they were all recognized for their courage.
Six residents were honored this week at the 25th Annual Citizens of Courage Awards, as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis saluted the recipients in front of more than 300 dignitaries, elected officials, community leaders and guests.
“These individuals displayed extraordinary bravery in the face of serious crime,” Dumanis said. “By honoring them today, we’re also shining a light on the thousands of crime victims our office reaches out to every year in San Diego County and the importance of supporting victims’ rights.”
This year’s Citizens of Courage recipients include:
- Azalyea Duran – An 8-year-old girl stabbed 26 times when she walked in on a man murdering her mother in San Marcos. She survived the devastating ordeal and helped prosecutors convict her mother’s killer.
- John and Mary Cates – An elderly couple with health issues who were violently attacked in an alley as they collected cardboard. John Cates was faced with an agonizing decision of leaving his wife behind in the attacker’s clutches in order to save her life.
- Sean Simpson – A carjacking victim who was shot and left dying in a parking lot by vicious gang members. After he recovered from his life-changing injuries, Sean Simpson testified against the gang member who tried to kill him.
- Daniel Wagner – A young man who witnessed a horrific car crash on a dark stretch of Interstate 805 and courageously came to the aid of multiple victims in the middle of the night. After he rescued a family from an overturned van, he and the 13-year-old boy he had just pulled to safety witnessed a second crash that killed the parents.
- “Maria” – A human trafficking victim who at age 13 was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, sexually-assaulted and forced by her own relatives into prostitution and slave labor.
The District Attorney’s Office is committed to assisting crime victims through its Victim Assistance Division. In the aftermath of violent crime, Victim Advocates respond as “emotional paramedics.” Last year Victim Advocates reached out to more than 14,500 victims of crime and provided more nearly 1,500 crisis interventions.