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2009 salute to local heroes to take place today

(SAN DIEGO) – A Mission Valley woman who fought and helped capture a serial rapist, is among the five people who will be honored today as local heroes by the heads of the three largest local law enforcement agencies in San Diego County.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club of San Diego, the 19th Annual Law Enforcement Salute to Local Heroes recognizes average citizens who have performed courageous deeds that assisted fellow citizens and/or law enforcement. Presenting the awards will be San Diego County Sheriff William Gore, District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis and San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne.

The honorees include:

Christina Hennigan (Mission Valley): She was attacked in her garage by a suspect in six home invasion robberies/sexual assaults and fought back. The marathon runner chased the suspect despite being punched in the face while in pursuit. An off-duty Border Patrol Agent got involved after hearing her screams for help and held the suspect for police. The suspect committed suicide in jail a few days later.

Maurice Orange (El Cajon): A Martial Arts expert, Orange came to the rescue of a purse snatching victim and held the perpetrator for police.

Blake Stech (La Jolla): Earlier last year, Stech came to the rescue of a woman who was being physically assaulted by two suspects who robbed her. He chased after the suspects despite their attempts to assault him. He was able to recover most of the victim's property when the suspects fled in a waiting getaway car. His testimony lead to a conviction.

Julio M. (Oceanside): Julio became a star witness in the execution of a police officer, providing information to authorities that led to the recovery of evidence and the arrest and conviction of three defendants.

Eric Sturham (Rancho Penasquitos): Sturham, a manager of a Poway bank, followed an armed robber in his personal car after being held up and provided the information to Sheriff’s deputies. The serial bank robber and his accomplice were captured after a pursuit and both pleaded guilty to their crimes.

The Salute to Local Heroes will be held today at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in Mission Valley.