ATLANTIC CITY — It’s been more than a year since Officer Josh Vadell was shot in the head while responding to a robbery.
Vadell, now retired from the Police Department, has had a year of challenge and recovery. On Friday, he was honored as a hero, along with those who helped him survive that night.
On Sept. 3, 2016, Vadell was shot trying to break up a robbery at Caesars Atlantic City parking garage. His partner, Officer Thomas McCabe, returned fire and killed the man who shot Vadell. The investigation involved several agencies and resources and mostly took place before the sun came up.
At the Atlantic City Police Foundation’s second annual Atlantic City Hero Luncheon at the Palm restaurant, Vadell was honored for his perseverance and courage that day. Also honored were McCabe, New Jersey State Police Lt. Col. Ray Guidetti, then-acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, Chief of Detectives Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Daren Dooley and the AtlantiCare Trauma Team for their efforts in the incident.
“It’s nice to not be the only one to be recognized,” Vadell said at the event. ”Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
The luncheon also gave police Chief Henry White the opportunity to tell the approximately 150 attendees what he remembered about that day. He described the circumstances leading to the shooting, how Vadell and McCabe were both on routine patrol when they saw the incident taking place.
McCabe’s concern was to tend to his partner, getting him into a car and to the hospital for help, White said.
“I got the phone call around 2:35, 2:36 in the morning time, that one of our officers had been shot,” White said.
At the time, he didn’t know who the officer was. Police communications was upset and busy, and he couldn’t get much information immediately. The patrol commander was at the hospital, where the wounded officer had been taken.
“We go through this training all the time, but you can never be fully prepared for anything like this,” White said.
White said he quickly got in touch with Dooley, who told White he would handle all of the notifications of partner agencies.
Then he met members of the State Police, who White said were on the scene immediately, including Guidetti, who brought resources after traveling from Bergen County. Ruberton was on the scene, along with members of the county Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI.
“This is all before the sun even came up,” he said.
But there were still suspects to find and an officer who needed care at the hospital, White said.
“This case was rather strange because, when Josh got shot, both the victims and the suspects, they all fled in separate directions,” White said.
Mayor Don Guardian presented the awards to Vadell and McCabe on Friday. He reminisced about Labor Day Weekend in 2016, saying Sept. 3 has a different meaning to Atlantic City than to the rest of the world.
“God was looking over you that day,” Guardian told Vadell. “The fact that you’re here with us today is truly God’s blessing.”
It was an easy choice when the foundation had to choose a Hero Award, Capt. James Sarkos said.
“It was a truly hectic, extraordinary night when this occurred,” Sarkos said to Vadell. “You inspire everyone.”
The Palm also revealed drawings of Vadell and McCabe to be featured on the wall. Vadell said the honor made him tear up.