Berlin Police Officers Honored For Rescue Made In House Fire

Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing presented special recognitions on Monday to Officers Merle Bragg and Edward Carmean for their heroic actions during an April residential fire. Submitted Photo

BERLIN — In an emotional ceremony Monday, two Berlin Police Department (BPD) officers were honored for their actions during a vicious house fire that caused severe injuries in April.

While they weren’t the only heroes that day, the two officers were the first on the scene and responsible for pulling a trapped young girl to safety.

BPD Officers Merle Bragg and Edward Carmean were both recognized at Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting for their role in the response to the house fire that tore through a Branch Street home this spring.

“This is one of those proud occasions when the chief of police gets to stand before a community to praise the good deeds and works of their officers,” said BPD Chief Arnold Downing. “We often use the word ‘hero’ in loose terms, in loose ways, but today I can go ahead and say the Berlin Police Department has two heroes.”

Though the Berlin Fire Company (BFC) was quick to respond, Downing noted that Bragg and Carmean were the only emergency services available during the first few minutes and put themselves in harm’s way immediately when they realized that a young girl was trapped within the inferno.

“What they found, what they saw, was a small hand on the back of a rear window,” said Downing.

Once the officers spotted the victim, Bragg punched out the glass in the window while Carmean cleared the shards with his baton. The pair pulled the 6-year-old to safety. They also looked for a way to rescue the girl’s mother, 31-year-old Tocarra Derrickson, who was trapped on the house’s second story. Reaching Derrickson from the ground proved difficult due to the officer’s lack of equipment.

Luckily, the BFC arrived within minutes of receiving the call and fire personnel were able to reach Derrickson. Bragg and Carmean remained on scene and aided the firefighters where they could.

It is a story with many heroes, Downing said Monday, including the BFC, two members of which were hospitalized following the fire along with Bragg and Carmean, as well as the community. Many of Derrickson’s neighbors stepped up to help during and after the fire.

“We’re going to have a whole lot of heroes when it is all said and done, but I’m proud to say that I have two of them,” said Downing before officially recognizing Bragg and Carmean.

Though the fire was on April 17, Downing explained that the accolades were held until this week to give the Derrickson family the chance to heal and recover from the experience. Tocarra Derrickson received treatment at Johns Hopkins as well as the Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore. She entered the hospital in critical but stable condition. She was in attendance during Monday’s ceremony and described the officers as “angels” who had rescued her little girl.

“I just want to say thank you so much. When I was in the hospital, I just kept thinking, ‘who were these angels that got my daughter out?’ I just thank you all so much and may God bless you guys forever,” she said.

Tocarra Derrickson’s father, Gerald Derrickson, was in the audience and thanked the officers before embracing both of them.

Friends and family of the two officers were also in attendance during Monday’s meeting, including members of the armed services. Downing highlighted that both Bragg and Carmean have military experience and training that certainly came to their aid when responding to the fire.

“These guys have trained for that. Both of them have been active military and both are reservists,” Downing said. “I think you can see that through the commitment in this actual situation. It wasn’t just what they did, it’s how they continued.”

All told, firefighters from Berlin, Showell, Ocean City, Ocean Pines and Newark Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the call. It was a major fire and one that could have ended in a much more tragic outcome if not for the quick actions of responders.


Soundwave Music Festival To Feature National Acts

BERLIN — The Soundwave Music Festival is returning to Worcester County for its second year, featuring a massive lineup of rock bands, vendors and attractions. The three-day event will take place outside on a 50-acre open-air venue off Worcester Highway and organizer Airlift Entertainment expects an even larger turn out than the festival’s first year. “There’s a lot of hype. … Continue reading

Cohen Resigns From Council, Cites Personal Reasons

SALISBURY — Two-term Salisbury City Councilwoman Terry Cohen announced her unexpected resignation at the end of the council’s work session Monday. The reasons that Cohen, a past president of the council, gave for her resignation include changes in her personal life and recent tragedy. The rest of the council will now have until early next month to vote to appoint … Continue reading

New Company Launched To Operate Local, Regional Events; Live Wire Media Based In West OC

OCEAN CITY — Promoting everything from music to muscle cars, Live Wire Media has hit the ground running since its official launch last fall and the intention is to make the event coordination and media company a force on the East Coast. The seeds for Live Wire Media were sown almost two decades ago when CEO Brad “B-Rad” Hoffman’s original … Continue reading

Ambulance Misused During Bridge Mishap; City Employee Disciplined

OCEAN CITY — An unidentified Ocean City employee has been disciplined for a clear lack of good judgment after providing a ride to private citizens carrying unopened alcohol in a town ambulance during last month’s Route 50 Bridge breakdown. Around 3 p.m. on, July 26, the Route 50 bridge was stuck in the open position following a routine, scheduled open-closure … Continue reading

Petition Started Over New Girdletree Boat Ramp Project

SNOW HILL — An overhaul of the Taylor Landing boat ramp will make the spot less favorable for crabbing, a fact that has upset some Girdletree residents and led to a petition effort. The petition drive has included some rocky communications with the county. It’s unlikely that the petition will cause the project to stop, but the County Commissioners could … Continue reading

Food Trucks Banned In Berlin Without Council Approval

BERLIN — Following a public hearing, the Berlin Mayor and Council have amended the town code in regards to the peddling, solicitation or distribution of merchandise. A minor change, the issue did manage to spark discussion on Berlin’s growing visitor population and the need to protect established merchants should the town attract more passing business. The amendment to town code … Continue reading

Salisbury Firehouse Makeover Clears Hurdle; Live Entertainment Venue Construction Underway

SALISBURY — The last big hurdle for the proposed Headquarters Live in Salisbury was taken at a running jump last week when the town’s Historic District Commission (HDC), in front of a crowd of supporters, approved an application by the property owners to include three additional openings to the exterior of the building. Construction is underway and the plan is … Continue reading

OC Planning Director Resigns, Citing ‘Personal Reasons’

OCEAN CITY – A little over a year and half after he started working with the Town of Ocean City, Planning and Community Development Director Matt Margotta has submitted his resignation to take effect at the end of August. According to Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters, Margotta submitted his resignation to City Manager David Recor over the weekend. Margotta … Continue reading