1998 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper John Dance
Trooper John R. Dance has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for January, 1998, based on his actions in which he was shot during a traffic stop.
On January 19, 1998, at 10:45 p.m., Trooper Dance was working Drug Interdiction on Interstate 95 south of Edgewater when he observed a northbound vehicle that appeared to have a window smashed out. Dance suspected that the vehicle, a black Dodge Stratus, might be stolen, so he pulled out onto the roadway and stopped the vehicle just south of the Edgewater exit.
While approaching the vehicle, the driver exited and immediately fired at Trooper Dance, striking him in the right leg. After being shot, Dance remained calm and immediately returned fire at the suspect. The suspect got back into his vehicle and fled the scene as Trooper Dance was firing at him. Dance called for backup and requested help, maintaining his composure even under the stressful events that had just transpired.
On January 23, 1998, the suspects in this shooting, Jeremy Scott Guidry and Shandar Miller, were apprehended while sleeping in the suspect vehicle in a church parking lot in California, Missouri. They were both arrested without incident.
Trooper Dance is an 11-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop D, Bunnel.
February | Trooper Herbert Dulin, Trooper Don Hardin, Trooper Timothy Wood and Sergeant Jerry L. Adams
Troopers Herbert E. Dulin, Don R. Hardin, Timothy A. Wood, and Sergeant Jerry L. Adams have all been selected as recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for February, 1998, based on their involvement in the rescue of a female individual who was being beaten and held against her will by her boyfriend.
On February 26, 1998, at approximately 10:55 P.M., Trooper Dulin was awaiting the arrival of a wrecker while completing his investigation of a minor traffic crash on State Road 50 just west of Alafaya Trail.
As soon as the wrecker arrived, the driver quickly informed Trooper Dulin that he had just heard a report on his company radio that a woman passenger was being beaten by the driver of a gray Honda that was traveling east on State Road 50. Trooper Dulin immediately proceeded east on State Road 50 and advised the FHP duty officer of this information. At the intersection of State Road 419, Dulin came in contact with the vehicle.
While pulling in behind the Honda, Trooper Dulin witnessed the white male driver grab the female by the head and slam her into the passenger door. The driver then pushed the female’s head through the front windshield. Dulin later stated that he could actually see her hair being blown out through the front glass. Trooper Dulin instantly activated his emergency lights to assist in distracting the driver from further assaulting this white female passenger.
The driver, identified later as 30-year-old Eugene McCormick, now found himself preoccupied with a marked FHP patrol car but refused to pull over. By this time, the Orlando FHP station had been placed on emergency status and other units, including Sergeant Adams, Trooper Hardin, and Trooper Wood, were responding to the area for assistance.
Trooper Dulin continued east on State Road 50 directly behind the vehicle driven by McCormick. Although this was not a high-speed pursuit, it was obvious to Dulin that the driver was attempting to flee.
As Trooper Dulin and McCormick approached the community of Christmas, the suspect vehicle immediately made a quick right turn and proceeded south on a dirt road at an accelerated speed. Trooper Dulin momentarily lost the taillights of the vehicle and decided, as a safety precaution, to wait for back-up units. Dulin was concerned that the driver might be luring him into some sort of trap.
By this time, Sergeant Adams, Trooper Hardin and Trooper Wood were arriving on the scene to assist. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter and canine had also been requested.
With the assistance of the other responding officers, Trooper Dulin proceeded south on the dirt road where they found that the suspect vehicle had been abandoned. The Honda had been left on the property of a mobile home that was located in a heavily wooded area. The residents of the mobile home informed the officers that they heard a female scream and witnessed her being forcefully dragged into the woods by some man.
Approximately 15 minutes later the sheriff’s department helicopter arrived, and through a coordinated effort, a thorough search was initiated. The search lights of the helicopter subsequently spotted two subjects in thick underbrush, at which time Trooper Dulin located the male lying on top of the female. Trooper Dulin carried the female to Trooper Wood’s patrol car where they observed several distinguishable bruises and red marks on her neck and arms.
Subject McCormick was subdued by the other officers and the victim, identified as Lisa Warden, age 23, was transported to Florida Hospital East.
McCormick was arrested for several charges including; Aggravated Battery, Domestic Violence, Obstructing Justice, False Imprisonment, DUI, Willfully Fleeing and Driving While License Suspended.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Warden is the girl friend of McCormick and that they had been arguing for most of the evening. The argument had turned violent while they were traveling on State Road 50. A review of the criminal history on McCormick shows that he has a past record for attempted murder, concealed weapons charges and dealing in controlled substances. McCormick is presently on bail for an attempted murder charge that occurred at Michael’s Bar on East Colonial Drive.
The actions taken by the four FHP officers in this incident were instrumental in protecting this victim from further harm. The physical condition and past record of the assailant clearly reflects that had no intervention taken place, the possibility of serious bodily injury to the victim seemed assured.
March | Trooper Helen McCoy
Trooper Helen P. McCoy has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for March, 1998, based on her actions involving the capture of a suspect wanted for various criminal offenses.
On March 4, 1998, an extensive manhunt was in progress for the killer of a Haines City police officer. Trooper McCoy was working radar on Lunn Road when she observed a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle involved in the killing drive by her location in excess of the posted speed limit. As Trooper McCoy attempted to pull up behind the vehicle, it sped up, and ran through a stop sign. McCoy estimated the speed of the vehicle to be approximately 100 miles per hour. As the suspect was approaching another stop sign, he attempted to turn left, hit the brakes, and slid eastbound, where he abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into a wooded area.
Trooper McCoy immediately advised the FHP duty officer of the situation and her location, then directed two arriving Polk County sheriff’s deputies in setting up a perimeter until additional assistance arrived on the scene.
Two more deputies, including a K-9 unit, and the sheriff’s helicopter arrived to assist in the search for the suspect, who was subsequently located and charged with burglary of a dwelling, theft, grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding a police officer, unlawful speed, and not wearing a safety belt.
Trooper McCoy’s attention to duty, knowledge of the area, and her quick response in setting up a perimeter led to the apprehension and arrest of this subject, Shenard Dumas.
Trooper McCoy is a three-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C, Winter Haven.
April | Trooper Ronald Roberts
Trooper Ronald L. Roberts has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for April, 1998, based on his heroic efforts to rescue two victims of a house fire.
On April 11, 1998, Trooper Roberts was traveling northbound on U.S. #1 in Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie County, when he noticed a house burning west of U.S. #1. Roberts responded to the scene and advised the FHP Duty Officer of the situation. He found a woman sitting on the step of the house crying. She then tried to enter the house, but Trooper Roberts held her back. Roberts subsequently learned that there were possibly two persons inside the house; a child and an adult.
Trooper Roberts retrieved his fire extinguisher from his patrol car and entered the house through the front door, using his extinguisher to knock down the flames. He started crawling through the house on his knees, under the smoke, calling for the child and the adult, but no one answered. Roberts then exited the house and began breaking windows from the outside in another attempt to find the victims. He then tried to enter the house again, but the smoke and flames were too intense.
The woman initially found in front of the house tried to enter it again, but Trooper Roberts was able to restrain her. At this time, the Ft. Pierce Police and Fire Departments arrived on the scene. When the fire was extinguished, the two victims were found in the house.
Although the two victims died during this fire, Trooper Roberts made a heroic effort to save them. He was also responsible for keeping the female victim on the scene safe by restraining her from entering the burning house. Roberts’ actions were clearly beyond the call of duty.
Trooper Roberts is an eight-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop L, Ft. Pierce.
May | Trooper Tina Case
Trooper Tina M. Case has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for May, 1998, based on her actions involving the identification of a diabetic subject in need of medical assistance.
During the early morning hours of May 19, 1998, Sergeant James P. Rhyne was riding with Trooper Thomas O’Donnell on Interstate 4. As they approached the Beeline Expressway, they spotted a vehicle which had crashed into the wooded west shoulder area of Interstate 4. Sergeant Rhyne and Trooper O’Donnell approached the crash scene and observed the driver stagger from the site. He did not appear to be injured, but seemed to be profoundly intoxicated. The subject was unable to communicate clearly, and by all outward appearances, was drunk.
Trooper Case then arrived on the scene to assist, and immediately recognized that the subject was wearing a medic alert necklace, and subsequently discovered that he was a diabetic. Case immediately summoned a rescue unit for medical help.
Rescue personnel arrived shortly thereafter, and after testing the subject, discovered that his blood sugar was dangerously low, at which time paramedics immediately administered glucose to him. Within twenty minutes, he was within his normal faculties, and although admitting to having had a couple of beers earlier in the evening, he passed a regiment of standardized field sobriety tests.
Because if witness statements concerning the subject’s driving actions, the odor of alcoholic beverages on his breath, and his extreme impairment, it would not have been unreasonable for an experienced officer to conclude that the subject was simply a drunk driver, rather than a victim of a severe medical condition.
Trooper Case is to be commended for her quick thinking in this situation. Her advanced medical training served this subject in such a way that it probably saved his life. By recognizing his condition and alerting to his medic alert necklace, Trooper Case insured that he received proper medical attention immediately, and was not wrongly arrested for DUI.
Trooper Case is an eight-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop D, Orlando.
June | Trooper David Rodriguez
Trooper David F. Rodriguez has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for June, 1998, based on his outstanding lifesaving actions during the month of June.
On June 6, 1998, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Trooper Rodriguez responded to a traffic crash on Alligator Alley at the 62 mile marker. When he arrived on the scene, he was told by witnesses that a car had gone into the canal on the north shoulder. Rodriguez immediately jumped into the alligator infested waters and began searching for the car.
He found the car upside down in about twenty feet of water but was unable to locate any occupants. He was also unable to open a door or a window of the vehicle. Trooper Rodriguez continued to dive into the grassy, muddy water in an effort to find the occupants, but was unsuccessful. A dive team arrived on the scene, but they were also unable to free the occupants from the vehicle. When a wrecker arrived on the scene, the vehicle was pulled from the canal, and four occupants were found dead in the car.
Also, on June 30, 1998, Trooper Rodriguez responded to a one-car crash on Alligator Alley at the 70 mile marker. When he arrived, he found the driver unconscious and not breathing. Rodriguez immediately began CPR and was able to revive the subject, keeping him stable until EMS arrived on the scene. The victim was then transported to a local hospital, but unfortunately died later as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.
July | Lieutenant Anthony DiPace
Lieutenant Anthony F. DiPace has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for July, 1998, based on his actions which resulted in the rescue of two women who were being sexually assaulted and held against their will.
On July 24, 1998, just after midnight, Lt. DiPace was serving as the midnight shift commander in Orlando. While at an automated bank teller machine near the FHP office in Orlando to obtain some cash, DiPace was approached by a woman who told him that she and her girlfriend had been abducted at gunpoint. She told Lt. DiPace that her girlfriend was being held hostage in her car which was parked on the opposite side of the bank. The woman was supposed to get money from the machine and return to the car. As the woman left, DiPace went to his car and radioed for backup.
Lt. DiPace followed the car until several Orlando Police Department units responded to assist him, at which time the vehicle was stopped, and the suspect, identified as Eugene Folston, 34, of Orlando, was taken into custody without incident. Folston had abducted the two women on a downtown Orlando street earlier that evening and had forced them into their car at gun point. Folston told one woman to drive and ordered the other woman into the back seat where he sexually assaulted her. He then ordered them to drive to a bank automated teller to obtain money. Folston has been questioned in connection with ten similar crimes near tourist-oriented hotels in Orange and Osceola counties.
During this incident, Lt. DiPace demonstrated a tremendous level of law enforcement skills and judgment which certainly upholds the Florida Highway Patrol’s image in the highest tradition.
Lt. DiPace is a fourteen year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop D, Orlando.
August | Corporal William Barge, Jr.
Corporal William M. Barge, Jr. has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for August, 1998, for saving the life of a man vacationing in the Ocala area.
On August 10, 1998, Corporal Barge was stopped on County Road 484, issuing a warning ticket to a violator, when Mr. Gary Schemenauer of Racine, Wisconsin, approached him and advised him that he was having an allergic reaction to ant bites. Because Corporal Barge had been previously certified as an emergency medical technician, he quickly assessed Mr. Schemenauer’s condition, and immediately recognized that he was having a severe reaction to the ant bites, and that his condition was becoming life-threatening. Upon learning that no immediate emergency services were close by or available, Barge quickly transported Mr. Schemenauer to the nearest medical facility available.
Soon after reaching the hospital, Mr. Schemenauer’s pulse rate dropped to life-threatening levels. Emergency room doctors were able to revive and stabilize him to the point of recovery. Dr. Brooks, the emergency room attending physician, stated that Corporal Barge had literally saved Mr. Schemenauer’s life by immediately transporting him to the hospital emergency room. Dr. Brooks further indicated that even if Barge would have transported Mr. Schemenauer to a local fire station or waited for paramedics to arrive, they would not have been able to successfully treat him and that he would have died.
Corporal Barge’s dedication to his assigned patrol duties and his personal motivation in this and other incidents have greatly contributed to the professionalism and image of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Corporal Barge is a twenty-one year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop G, Ocala.
September | Trooper Joseph Fabiano
Trooper Joseph A. Fabiano has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for September, 1998, for rescuing a trapped subject from a burning vehicle.
On September 13, 1998, Trooper Fabiano was utilizing stationary radar on Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County and at approximately 5:40 a.m., he clocked a vehicle at 93 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone. As Trooper Fabiano attempted to overtake the vehicle, it became apparent that the driver of the vehicle had noticed Fabiano enter the roadway and now was attempting to exit the Interstate at the northbound Donald Ross exit. The driver of the suspect vehicle could not negotiate the curve at the speed he was traveling, and left the roadway, overturning. Trooper Fabiano witnessed the vehicle crash.
After rolling and coming to final rest on its top, the vehicle burst into flames. The driver was still inside the vehicle, strapped in his seat belt. With the vehicle in flames, Trooper Fabiano rushed to the aid of the trapped driver. Fabiano strongly suspected criminal activity, and after extricating the driver from the burning vehicle, he secured the suspect with handcuffs, and went back to the burning vehicle to check for other occupants.
The driver and sole occupant of this vehicle, a 16 year old juvenile, had stolen the vehicle from the Lake Worth, Florida area. Trooper Fabiano’s actions surely saved the life of the juvenile, who was trapped upside down in his seatbelt in a burning vehicle. By the time of the arrival of the fire department, the interior of the vehicle had been totally consumed by flames. The damage from the flames and heat was extensive, showing the severity of the fire.
The hazards existing within a burning vehicle are well known, and the risk of injury or death in being near a burning vehicle are very high. With no regard for his own safety, Trooper Fabiano extracted a trapped juvenile, removed him from the area of danger, and then went back to the vehicle to search for other occupants. His actions were above and beyond the call of duty. The courage Trooper Fabiano displayed in rescuing a trapped subject from a burning vehicle is exemplary.
Trooper Fabiano is a thirteen- year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop L, Lantana.
October | Trooper Neil Moore
Trooper Neil P. Moore has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for October, 1998, based on his lifesaving actions at the scene of a traffic crash.
On October 21, 1998, at 1:30 p.m., Trooper Moore responded to a traffic crash, with a vehicle in the canal. Upon arriving at the scene, Trooper Moore and two motorists entered the canal where the vehicle had submerged. Moore forcefully entered the vehicle by breaking out the right front window, then cut the seatbelt off of the driver before he was able to remove him from the vehicle. Trooper Moore and a motorist administered CPR on the victim, Mr. Robert James Flowers, and were able to revive him at the scene. During this rescue, Moore sustained cuts on his hand, as well as scratches and abrasions on his arms.
Trooper Moore is hereby commended for his courageous actions which resulted in the lifesaving rescue of Mr. Flowers. Moore is a nine-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop K, West Palm Beach.
November | Trooper John Britt, Jr.
Trooper John H. Britt, Jr. has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for November, 1998, based on his lifesaving actions at the scene of a house fire in Pensacola.
On Monday, November 23, 1998, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Trooper Britt was northbound on County Road 453 when he observed thick black smoke coming from a house located on Strong Street. Trooper Britt immediately responded to the location and discovered the house at 2908 Strong Street on fire.
Trooper Britt, along with a civilian who had also observed the fire (Mr. Fred Brandenburg), rushed to the house and began banging on the door attempting to ascertain if the house was occupied. A female came to the door and it was discovered that there were eight occupants in the house, including two small children and an elderly female. Trooper Britt and Mr. Brandenburg had to carry the elderly female out of the house. Then, as smoke filled the house, Britt then searched room to room, looking for other occupants and ensuring that everyone had been located and escaped from the burning house. Trooper Britt and others also rescued a young female from the roof of the carport.
A total of six adults and two small children were safely escorted out of the burning residence, which was completely destroyed as a result of the fire. As a member of the Troop A Tactical Response Team, Trooper Britt did not hesitate in entering the burning, smoke-filled house in search of victims, and he did so without regard for his own personal safety.
There is no doubt that Trooper Britt’s quick actions, along with Mr. Brandenburg’s, were responsible for the safe evacuation of all the occupants inside the burning house.
Trooper Britt is a twelve-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop A, Pensacola.
December | Trooper John Muniz and Trooper Santiago Lopez
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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