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Trooper of the Month
December 1998

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Troopers of the Month/1996-1998
Troopers of the Month
Trooper Recognition

Trooper Muniz
Trooper John Muniz
Troop D - Orlando

Trooper Lopez
Trooper Santiago Lopez
Troop D - Orlando

Trooper John Muniz and Trooper Santiago Lopez have been selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for December, 1998, based on Their lifesaving actions at the scene of a traffic crash.

On December 8, 1998, at approximately 1:55 p.m., Troopers Muniz and Santiago were working an off-duty police employment detail with Florida Power Corporation on John Young Parkway near the Beeline Expressway in Orange County. While parked on the shoulder, they became aware of two vehicles "drag racing" northbound on John Young Parkway. One of these vehicles subsequently struck another motorist in the rear, forcing the car out of control. Both troopers heard the impact and witnessed the victim's car slide across the shoulder, through a barbed wire fence, and into a retention pond full of water.

Troopers Muniz and Santiago immediately proceeded to the scene of the crash, where the vehicle had flipped over and submerged into about five feet of water. Both troopers entered the water along with several Florida Power Corporation workers to attempt a rescue. One of the bystanders helped pull a female driver out of the vehicle; the female then began screaming that her baby was still inside. Trooper Muniz and Trooper Santiago, along with three members of Florida Power Corporation then quickly assumed positions to pick the vehicle up in order to rescue the infant.

As the vehicle was lifted, one of the firefighters on the scene reached in and removed the baby from its child safety seat. Other than crying, the infant appeared to be uninjured. This was later confirmed at an area hospital.

Trooper Lopez later arrested the two drivers who were racing and placed them into the Orange County jail on Reckless Driving charges. In addition, Lopez charged one of the drivers with Driving While License Suspended, a felony violation.

Trooper Muniz is a six-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop K, Orlando. Trooper Lopez, a two-year veteran, is assigned to Troop D, Orlando.

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