Member Recognition

1998 Trooper of the Year

Florida Highway Patrol Announces Trooper of the Year

Troopers Roden, Saavedra, and Smith receive Trooper of the Year awardOn July 14, 1998, the Florida Highway Patrol announced that Sergeant Michael W. Roden, Trooper Orlando J. Saavedra, and Trooper Andrew R. Smith had been selected for the prestigious Trooper of the Year Award for 1998, based on their combined actions involving the rescue of a female carjacking victim in Dade County.

On July 8, 1997, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Sergeant Roden was notified by Troop F and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office that two subjects had fired shots at a Florida Highway Patrol trooper on Interstate 75 in the area of Bonita Springs, Florida. The two subjects then took a female hostage and fled in her green BMW, bearing Florida tag EDYSWTY. Troops L and F established roadblocks within their respective areas and Troop E was planning the establishment of a roadblock on US 41 at the Collier County line.

Troopers Roden, Saavedra, and Smith receive Trooper of the Year awardSergeant Roden was dispatched to help establish the roadblock at U.S. 41 and the Collier County line. At approximately 3:25 p.m., Roden was proceeding to the roadblock location when he observed the BMW traveling eastbound toward Miami. Sergeant Roden immediately turned around and proceeded to overtake the BMW. Troopers Saavedra and Smith were positioned at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Krome Avenue when the vehicle approached and stopped for a red traffic signal. Sergeant Roden instructed the troopers to conduct a felony stop on the vehicle. As the stop was initiated, the subjects fired shots at the troopers. The troopers returned fire as the subjects fled northbound on Krome Avenue.

After a brief chase, the BMW slowed and was struck by two patrol cars. There, after a short struggle, one of the offenders was shot and killed. The other was arrested after a violent hand-to-hand fight. The hostage, was rescued unharmed. Fortunately, Sergeant Roden, Trooper Saavedra, and Trooper Smith all came out of the ordeal with no major injuries.

The suspects were later identified as wanted in connection with a bank robbery and kidnapping that occurred in South Carolina. In addition to these crimes, the suspects were also wanted for questioning in the death of their grandparents.

Sergeant Roden and Troopers Saavedra and Smith demonstrated exemplary courage and determination which resulted in the safe rescue of a hostage from the hands of two armed and dangerous suspects who were wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.