1999 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper Mark Nevergold
Trooper Mark W. Nevergold has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for January 1999, based on his lifesaving actions at the scene of a traffic stop.
On Saturday, January 9, 1999, Trooper Nevergold stopped a red 1995 Isuzu on Northlake Boulevard at 1:20 p.m. While issuing the driver, Melissa Hutcherson, a citation, a commotion occurred within the vehicle. Acting swiftly, Trooper Nevergold investigated and found a child inside of the vehicle who was not breathing, and had turned blue.
Trooper Nevergold promptly and without hesitation performed the Heimlich maneuver on the toddler, who soon after began breathing normally. An inspection of the child’s hands revealed several coins that the child was still clutching throughout the incident, one of which caused the child to choke.
Trooper Nevergold is an eighteen-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop L, Lantana.
February | Trooper Pedro Llanio
Trooper Pedro M. Llanio has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for February 1999, based on his diligent effort in apprehending a hit and run driver.
On January 12, 1999, Trooper Llanio responded to a hit and run crash involving a pedestrian on State Road 976 and S.W. 104 Avenue. There was no information on the vehicle that had struck the pedestrian and fled the scene.
The next day, Trooper Llanio began an investigation into the crash, and developed some clues on the identity of the suspect driver that had left the scene of the crash. Llanio exhaustively pursued all possible leads in the case, then managed to pinpoint the suspect’s name and location of his residence.
On February 23, 1999, all of Trooper Llanio’s hard work paid off. The suspect, Orlando Porrata, surrendered himself to the State Attorney’s Office, where he was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving injuries.
Trooper Llanio’s diligent effort and perseverance led to the apprehension of this suspect and the successful conclusion of this case. Llanio is a 17-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop E, Miami.
March | Corporal Ronald Cox
Corporal Ronald C. Cox has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for March 1999, based on his outstanding effort in conducting a very complex traffic homicide investigation.
During the month of March 1999, Corporal Cox completed this complicated investigation, which actually began on June 15, 1998, and testified in court against Mr. Jeffrey Sakemiller. Mr. Sakemiller and his daughter, Catriona, had gone into town to purchase a pool for Catriona and were returning home when the fatal crash occurred. Mr. Sakemiller was driving the vehicle and had permitted Catriona to ride in the pool in the back of his pickup truck. The pool, with Catriona in it, blew out of the truck; Catriona was subsequently struck and killed by another vehicle. Corporal Cox was assigned as the Traffic Homicide Investigator for this case.
On March 17, 1999, Mr. Sakemiller was sentenced to 171.2 months in prison for Vehicular Homicide, Driving with a Suspended Driver License, and Culpable Negligence Exposing Another to Injury. These convictions were the result of the traffic crash. Corporal Cox conducted an excellent investigation, carefully preserving the chain of custody on the blood evidence that was taken from Mr. Sakemiller. Also, during the course of the trial, Cox survived several “Motions to Suppress Evidence”, and got the blood entered as evidence in the case.
Mr. Sakemiller was a habitual traffic offender who had four (4) previous DUI convictions. However, the most damaging evidence against Mr. Sakemiller was Corporal Cox’s investigative report, as well as his testimony in court.
Corporal Cox is a 22-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop A, Marianna.
April | Trooper Carlos Velasquez
Trooper Carlos R. Velasquez has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for April 1999, based on his outstanding effort in apprehending two (2) armed robbery suspects.
On April 25, 1999, at 6:31 a.m., Trooper Velasquez was working the midnight shift when he observed suspicious behavior on the part of a person exiting a Krystal’s restaurant in Jacksonville. As Trooper Velasquez pulled into the driveway of the business, the suspect walked rapidly toward an awaiting vehicle. The store manager ran out of the door and informed Velasquez that he had just been robbed by armed gunmen, then pointed at the suspects as they sped away from the scene. Velasquez alerted the FHP Duty Officer and requested assistance as he proceeded to pursue the suspects.
By the time Trooper Velasquez was able to intercept the vehicle, it had been abandoned a short distance away at an apartment complex driveway, and the suspects had fled on foot into a wooded area. A quick check on the car revealed that it had been recently stolen. Upon arrival of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO), Trooper Velasquez directed the search for the criminals. A perimeter was set up to secure the area. A short time later, he and several JSO officers apprehended the suspects at gunpoint as they hid in a dumpster in an adjacent Food Lion parking lot.
Trooper Velasquez took rapid and bold action in this incident to apprehend armed robbery suspects fleeing from justice. He observed what he considered suspicious behavior while on routine patrol, took time to evaluate the situation, and was in the right position at the right time to answer the call from the store manager as the suspects attempted their escape. If it had not been for Trooper Velasquez’s alert and prompt action, the capture of these armed robbers would not have been so swift and sure.
Trooper Velasquez is a 13-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop G, Jacksonville.
May | Trooper George Henning
Trooper George T. Henning has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for May 1999, based on his outstanding effort in apprehending two suspects wanted for a home invasion robbery.
On May 11, 1999, Trooper Henning was at Deering Hospital in Miami completing a crash investigation. Earlier that evening, the Miami-Dade Police Department had issued a “BOLO” regarding a home invasion robbery that had occurred at S.W. 216th Street and S.W. 121 Avenue. While in the emergency room, Trooper Henning noticed two persons who matched the description of the suspects described in the home invasion bulletin.
Henning then questioned the emergency room personnel regarding these two possible suspects, and one of the doctors verified that one of the individuals had suffered a gunshot wound to the elbow. At this point, Trooper Henning left the room momentarily to request a backup. When Trooper Carl Holm arrived to assist, both of the troopers entered the emergency room and arrested the suspect that was wounded. Although the other suspect had left the area while Trooper Henning was calling for assistance, Henning later identified the suspect from a photo line-up. Officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department subsequently arrested the second suspect based on Trooper Henning’s identification.
Trooper Henning is a 10-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop E, Miami.
June | Trooper Tammy Tindle and Trooper Rickey Glover
Trooper Tammy S. Tindle and Trooper Rickey N. Glover have been selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for June 1999, based on their outstanding performance as described below:
During the month of June 1999, while returning from off-duty employment, Trooper Tindle saw a Bay County Deputy Sheriff handling a call in Youngstown, Florida, and she stopped to offer assistance. The Deputy was handling an attempted suicide and had no backup.
Trooper Tindle offered her assistance and entered a private residence at 7242 Waverly Street, Youngstown, Florida 32466, with the Deputy. Inside the residence Tindle and the Deputy found a suicide note and an almost empty bottle of pills. Upon further investigation, they both located a sleeping male, later identified as Samuel L. Hutchinson, in the master bedroom.
After another Deputy and Paramedics arrived, an attempt was made to remove Mr. Hutchinson from the bed and home for medical treatment. During the attempt, Trooper Tindle observed Mr. Hutchinson reaching under the covers of the bed. As Tindle alerted the Deputies and Paramedics to use caution, Mr. Hutchinson removed a knife from under the covers and stabbed himself in the stomach. One of the Deputies managed to gain control of the man’s arm and held it while Trooper Tindle disarmed the man. During Tindle’s struggle for possession of the knife, she received a cut on the thumb of her right hand.
Without regard for her personal safety, Trooper Tindle helped to control a very dangerous situation and was successful in her attempt to disarm Mr. Hutchinson. Trooper Tindle is commended for her bravery and alert actions in helping to bring stability to a very unpredictable situation.
On June 3, 1999 at approximately 12:43 a.m., Trooper Glover was on routine patrol in the area of Interstate 4 (I-4) in Hillsborough County. As he patrolled the eastbound lanes of I-4, Glover decided to turn around at the 13th Avenue exit and patrol the westbound lanes of I-4. As he proceeded to make his turn, Glover observed a physical confrontation between two males at the corner of 22nd Street and 13th Avenue. Trooper Glover reacted quickly by turning toward the incident and calling for assistance.
As Trooper Glover approached the confrontation, one of the males involved in the struggle immediately backed away from the fight and proceeded to identify himself as the store clerk of the nearby Amoco Station at 2207 13th Avenue. The clerk yelled out to Glover that the subject he had been fighting with was armed with a gun, and had attempted to rob the Amoco Store. At this same time, the assailant quickly ran from the area on foot with Trooper Glover directly behind him. As Glover pursued the suspect on foot, the suspect turned his head around to see if Glover was still behind him, and saw that the trooper was quickly gaining on him. Trooper Glover’s physical determination to apprehend the suspect caused him to surrender by stopping and lying on the ground as he shouted, “you got me”. Glover handcuffed and searched the suspect without further incident. No weapons were discovered.
Trooper Glover then brought the suspect, Alphonso Holmes, back to the Amoco Store and discovered that he had attempted to shoplift two cases of beer. The store clerk attempted to prevent the theft and was battered by the suspect. The store clerk then chased the suspect after the initial altercation at the store and was involved in a second altercation when Trooper Glover observed the pair at the intersection of 22nd Street and 13th Avenue.
Trooper Glover subsequently arrested and charged the suspect with; Retail Theft, Battery, Failed to Obey a Lawful Command, Resisting Arrest Without Violence, and Disorderly Intoxication. Later, Glover learned that this suspect had an outstanding warrant for a parole violation.
Trooper Glover’s actions clearly demonstrate his commitment to protecting and serving citizens. He reacted quickly after observing a violent confrontation, and, without regard for his own personal safety, chased someone who was thought to have just committed a crime of violence. Trooper Glover was determined to apprehend this possibly armed and dangerous suspect, and his physical stamina and dedicated loyalty to his duties prevailed. Trooper Glover prevented what could have easily resulted in the injury or death of an innocent citizen.
Trooper Tindle is a 14-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop A, Panama City. Trooper Glover is an 8-year veteran assigned to Troop C, Tampa.
July | Corporal David Dupont
Corporal David E. Dupont has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for July 1999 based on his outstanding efforts after responding to a traffic crash on July 10, 1999, in St. Johns County.
Upon arriving on the scene of a terrible crash, Corporal Dupont rendered first aid to the victims who were either ejected from or pinned under the vehicle. Under difficult circumstances Corporal Dupont remained calm and took immediate action. To assist one person, Dupont had to cut some vines, which were binding around their throat in order to restore breathing. With another, he had to raise their head and pile brush and leaves under their forehead to keep them breathing. Unfortunately, one of the victims died later but the other one recovered, thanks to Corporal Dupont.
Corporal Dupont acted in a heroic and professional manner and did everything he could to save lives and help others. He is hereby commended for a job well done.
Corporal Dupont is a 20-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop G, St. Augustine.
August | Trooper Jason Britt
Trooper Jason T. Britt has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for August 1999 based on his actions that occurred during the following incident:
On July 31, 1999, at 2:51 a.m., Trooper Britt assisted Officer Lee Langley of the Blountstown Police Department with a domestic disturbance at 910 North Pear Street in Blountstown, Florida. Upon his arrival at the Pear Street address, Trooper Britt learned from Officer Langley that a domestic disturbance had erupted between Henry Kyle Summerlin, a twenty-two (22) year old white male, and his father, Ellis Summerlin. Both of these men were intoxicated. The father had calmed down and was inside the residence, but the son, Kyle Summerlin, continued to be aggressive and stated that he was going to take Officer Langley’s gun. Mr. Summerlin had, in fact, tried unsuccessfully to touch Officer Langley’s gun. As Officer Langley attempted to calm Mr. Summerlin, Mr. Summerlin went into the house.
Trooper Britt and Officer Langley decided to leave the area, but as they were leaving, they heard a scream and turned to see Mr. Summerlin standing on the porch holding a young boy, his thirteen (13) year old nephew, around the neck with his left arm. In his right hand was a large knife. Trooper Britt immediately notified his FHP station of the situation.
Trooper Britt and Officer Langley returned to the Pear Street home, and as they approached, Mr. Summerlin placed the knife against the boy’s throat. Mr. Summerlin was ordered to release the boy and drop the knife. After several demands that he release the boy, Mr. Summerlin finally released the boy, but he kept the knife in his hand. Mr. Summerlin then threatened to use the knife on Trooper Britt and Officer Langley.
While this was taking place, Sheriff W. G. (Buddy) Smith, Blountstown Police Chief Robert W. Deason, and Deputy Sheriff D. Temples arrived at the Pear Street address. Still holding the knife, Mr. Summerlin then retrieved his pit bulldog that was chained to the house. Officer Langley then distracted Mr. Summerlin with a flashlight, while Trooper Britt slipped around behind Mr. Summerlin and shouted at him. When Mr. Summerlin turned to look, Trooper Britt sprayed him in the face with his Aerosol Subject Restraint (ASR) spray. This caused Mr. Summerlin to drop the knife and move away from the dog. Officer Langley then arrested Mr. Summerlin for Aggravated Assault and took him into custody. Due to Trooper Britt’s actions, this dangerous situation was diffused without injury to the child, Mr. Summerlin, or Officer Langley.
Trooper Britt is a 3-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop A, Blountstown.
September | Sergeant Dennis Sorrells
Sergeant Dennis Sorrells has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for September 1999, based on a traffic homicide investigation he conducted, as outlined below:
On September 17, 1998, Sergeant Sorrells, then a Traffic Homicide Investigator, conducted a traffic homicide investigation on S. R. 79, in Bay County, Florida. The crash resulted in the death of a mother and her unborn child and the loss of both legs of another passenger in the vehicle.
During the month of September 1999, the driver of the vehicle, defendant Paul Endsley, went to trial for DUI Manslaughter and DUI with Serious Bodily Injury. In court, Sergeant Sorrells had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was driving the vehicle, was under the influence of alcohol, and was traveling at a very high rate of speed. The defendant, on the other hand, stated that he was not driving the vehicle, that he had not been drinking, and that the vehicle was not speeding.
Through a combination of Sergeant Sorrells’ excellent investigative and report-writing skills and professional courtroom demeanor, he convinced the jury that the defendant was responsible for the deaths and injuries in the crash. The jury retired to consider the evidence, and after only 21 minutes found the defendant guilty of all charges. The defendant was sentenced to twenty-five (25) years in prison, and ordered to pay fines and restitution of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00).
Recently promoted Sergeant Sorrells, a seventeen-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol, is hereby recognized for his actions during this investigation and trial. His performance certainly is a credit to the Florida Highway Patrol and to the State of Florida and he is commended for a job well done.
Sergeant Sorrells is assigned to Troop A, Panama City.
October | Trooper Ronald Drake
Trooper Ronald A. Drake has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for October 1999, based on his performance while aiding a frightened elderly lady in desperate need of assistance.
On Friday, October 8, 1999, Trooper Drake was on routine patrol, when he happened to come across two vehicles in the inside shoulder of Interstate 75 in Tampa. One vehicle was a red civilian vehicle, and the other was a County Ambulance. Trooper Drake stopped behind both vehicles and offered assistance. He noticed an elderly white male in the rear of the ambulance receiving intense treatment from paramedics. He also met with Mrs. Teresa Hooper (an elderly white female), the wife of the patient being treated. As he inquired further, Trooper Drake discovered that the elderly couple was enroute to Sarasota from New Hampshire when their vehicle experienced a flat tire. While the elderly male attempted to change the tire, he began having chest pains that progressed into a heart attack. When paramedics told Trooper Drake “it does not look good”, he immediately began consoling the wife and kept assuring her that her husband was in good hands.
Paramedics decided that there was no time to waste, and transported the patient to the closest hospital, which was South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center. Since the paramedics did not want the wife to follow an ambulance traveling in an emergency response mode, Trooper Drake assured them that he would see to it that the patient’s wife would arrive at the hospital safely. With that, Trooper Drake again took the time to calm Mrs. Hooper down, and because she was completely unfamiliar with the area, and had no family or friends nearby that she could call, Drake escorted her to the hospital.
Trooper Drake stayed with Mrs. Hooper in the South Bay Hospital until he could get her calmed down. Due to the critical nature of the patient, the physician decided to transfer him to the Tampa General Hospital Trauma Center. Since they were going to transport Mr. Hooper via helicopter, his wife was not allowed to go along. This made matters even worse for Mrs. Hooper. Trooper Drake felt compelled to help, and subsequently made the necessary arrangements to take her to Tampa General Hospital in his patrol car. In his opinion, she was much too upset to drive, and completely unfamiliar on how to get herself to Tampa General Hospital.
Trooper Drake transported Mrs. Hooper to Tampa General Hospital, and even allowed her the use of his personal cellular phone and pager so that she could communicate with family members in New Hampshire.
Trooper Drake woke up the next morning still concerned about the situation. He took the initiative to drive over to South Bay Hospital to check on the security of Mr. Hooper’s vehicle. After that, he revisited Mrs. Hooper at Tampa General Hospital, bringing her coffee and a newspaper, and informing her that her vehicle was safe.
Trooper Drake is a 3-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C, Tampa.
November | Trooper James Brooker
Trooper James G. Brooker has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for November 1999, based on a heroic, lifesaving act he was involved in during the month.
On November 01, 1999, at 3:55 AM, Trooper Brooker was in the process of issuing a traffic citation to a violator on Interstate 95 at Bowden Road when he observed a vehicle drift into the emergency lane behind him. As the vehicle came closer he realized that he and the violator, who was out the vehicle standing by him on the shoulder, were in danger if the vehicle continued on it’s current path. Once he realized that the vehicle was not going to stop or change course, he grabbed the violator and pushed her over the guardrail in order to protect her first. As Trooper Brooker was attempting to get out of the way himself, the vehicle crashed into his patrol car, causing it to strike him and the violator’s vehicle. Trooper Brooker was injured and had to be transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released for a minor leg injury.
There is no question that Trooper Brooker’s actions resulted in saving the life of the violator at a great personal risk to himself. He unselfishly took her safety into consideration first and heroically and quickly acted to protect her.
Trooper Brooker is a 17-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop G, Jacksonville.
December | Trooper Brett McCranie
Trooper Brett A. McCranie has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for December 1999, based on his apprehension of a suspect involved in a firebombing incident at the Denny’s Restaurant at County Road 579 and State Road 574.
On Wednesday, December 8, 1999, Trooper McCranie was on routine patrol and stopped at the traffic signal on County Road 579 at State Road 574. Trooper McCranie looked to his left toward the Denny’s Restaurant, and saw a large orange object fly through the air and strike the building. Upon striking the building, the orange object exploded in a large ball of flame.
McCranie drove into the Denny’s parking lot and identified a blue pickup truck that the object had been thrown from. The driver of the pickup truck looked at Trooper McCranie prior to leaving the parking lot at a high rate of speed. McCranie had activated his emergency equipment in the parking lot and the suspect fled, at which time McCranie advised the Tampa FHP Communications Center of what had just happened and to call for the fire department.
Trooper McCranie attempted to stop the suspect on westbound State Road 574. The suspect refused to stop, so he advised the Tampa Communications Center that he was in pursuit of the vehicle involved in the firebombing. The suspect fled into a residential area, approximately two miles from the scene, and pulled into the driveway of his residence at 10919 Old Hillsborough Avenue. The suspect continued to the back of the driveway, where he then stopped, exited the vehicle, and ran into the rear entrance of the trailer. As Trooper McCranie exited his patrol vehicle and was approaching the trailer, a white female exited the front of the trailer and yelled “we don’t have any guns in the house”. She stated that there were small children asleep inside. McCranie directed her to get the children and herself out of the front door of the mobile home to a place of safety, and she complied.
Trooper McCranie and a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy then ran to the rear of the mobile home in search of the suspect. The deputy advised McCranie that they had answered a domestic violence call at this residence a week earlier and that he knew the floor plan of the residence. McCranie and the deputy then entered the residence from the rear door and found the suspect in a rear bedroom.
The suspect was arrested without incident and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail for Arson, Possession of a Firebomb, Reckless Driving, Fleeing and Eluding, and Driving while License Suspended. Sergeant John K. Lane, and Troopers Don King and Teressa Hill were also on the scene to assist. During inventory of the pickup truck, Troopers King and Hill found another firebomb that had spilled over and a gasoline container in the rear bed. They also found material that was used as a wick in the front of the pickup truck.
Trooper McCranie is an eight-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C, Winter Haven.