To whom it may concern:
I would like to take this opportunity to commend one of your troopers working in Troop G in Palatka. If this is the standard of excellence you have your troopers strive for, you are doing well.
On July 13, 2006 I was on my way back home in Jacksonville after attending a criminal justice conference on Orlando. I have always been a fan of the scenic route and usually opt to take the back roads over the interstate. On this particular occasion I had opted to take US-17 the entire way instead of the traditional I-4 to I-95 dogleg. Traffic was relatively sparse until I hit Palatka at the big bridge going over the St. John's. Traffic was quite congested over the bridge as everyone was having to merge into one lane because a work crew was resurfacing the highway farther up.
About 200 feet up the bridge I noticed a minivan stranded by the side of the road, and that an FHP trooper had recently managed to maneuver himself so his vehicle was facing the minivan in the emergency lane and he was pulling a set of jumper cables out of his trunk. My first thought was "The FHP takes the time to offer roadside assistance like that?" Anyway, as traffic proceeded to crawl up the bridge, about 300 feet shy of the top of the bridge, I saw another stranded car. An older woman was standing on the guardrail side of her vehicle and had the hood up.
I will admit I don't stop to help folks as often as I probably should, but if I'm able to stop I do, if nothing else to loan the use of my cell phone so they can call someone. Today was one of those days where it was apparent that I wasn't going anywhere very quickly anyway, plus it was in the mid-90's temperature-wise with the sun blazing. I also figured the trooper would be a little while since he would eventually have to execute another U-turn with his vehicle to reorient it to the direction of traffic. So I pulled off in front of her vehicle and found out she thought it was the battery. I usually carry a set of jumper cables in my trunk just in case I need them. Unfortunately, even backing up as close to her vehicle as I could get, the cables were a couple of feet to short to connect our batteries.
I noticed the trooper by this time had finished assisting the other motorist and was in the process of reorienting his car. I told her he may have a longer set because he had just finished jumping someone else's battery. She seemed surprised because apparently two other local law enforcement employees and one other trooper did not have any cables with them. I told her it was standard practice with the Sheriff's Office in Baker County to carry cables or some other equipment to jump batteries and I was surprised that there were places it wasn't.
A couple of minutes later, the trooper had made his way up to us and pulled up behind the woman's car. We filled him in on the situation. His cables were not long enough either, so I moved my car farther up in the emergency lane so he could maneuver his car (again!) to be able to jump her battery. In the meantime she asked me if I had a phone I could borrow so she could call a family member and with no hesitation I did. While she made the call, the trooper made the battery connections and I sat down in her car to try starting the engine. It worked like a champ.
Once everything appeared to be all clear, the trooper moved on, again maneuvering his vehicle in a very awkward traffic situation for the fourth time (at least). The woman had me drive her car a little further just to make sure it wasn't going to stall out. One of her co-workers had apparently seen her and pulled in behind her. They talked for a minute or two - the woman just wanted to get her car off the road and out of the way and go home. I got in my car, they got in theirs. I started to pull ahead and apparently the vehicle had died again. She was able to get a ride with her co-worker though and they waved me on.
I regret that I did not get the name of the trooper. He was an older (probably in his forties, *maybe* early fifties) black male trooper who was working on the northbound stretch of US-17 at the bridge crossing the St. John's River in Palatka, within the time frame of probably 1315 to 1330 hours give or take a few minutes. I was impressed that he would take the time, repeatedly, to stop and help motorists stranded, in 95-degree weather, in probably the worst possible scenario to have to make a u-turn (four times!) as far as traffic goes, and still smile and have a positive and friendly attitude. I don't know if I could do that all day, but despite everything that transpired as far as the woman's car in the end, I personally appreciate his help and I know she did as well. Please give him at least an atta-boy or buy him a cup of coffee one morning or something.
Baker County Sheriff's Office
56 North 2nd Street
Macclenny, FL 32063