2001 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper Reginald Edwards
Trooper Reginald B. Edwards has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for January 2001, based on his actions in response to a possible suicide incident.
On January 21, 2001 at 11:45 a.m., Pinellas County FHP dispatch received a call from the Hillsborough County Crisis Center. Information was received that a Hispanic male was using the crisis phone located at the south fishing pier of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Interstate 75. The individual had advised the Crisis Center that his wife had left him and that he was going to jump off of the bridge.
Being assigned to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Trooper Edwards was dispatched and responded to the scene. Edwards located the individual and was able to successfully take him into custody without incident. The individual, who was identified as a previous attempted suicide patient, was admitted to Manatee Glenns Center under Florida’s Baker Act.
Trooper Edwards is commended for his quick and professional response to this potentially tragic incident. He is a 15-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C, Pinellas Park.
February | Trooper Howard Arnold
Trooper Howard J. Arnold has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for February 2001, based on his actions involving the rescue of a man from a burning building.
On February 11, 2001 at approximately 11:45 PM, Trooper Arnold was asleep in his apartment and was awakened by a knock at the door. A neighbor, identified as Mr. Jed Crose, had noticed smoke emitting from one of the apartments and was able to hear the audible fire alarm inside the apartment. Mr. Crose notified Trooper Arnold of this information. Trooper Arnold immediately got dressed and proceeded to the apartment to assist.
After arriving at the apartment, both Trooper Arnold and Mr. Crose observed the apartment smoking and could hear an alarm sounding from inside. As Mr. Crose opened the door with a master key, Trooper Arnold noticed a pair of shoes at the front door, which alerted him of the possibility of someone being inside the apartment. Trooper Arnold, without hesitation, decided to enter the apartment. Due to the thick smoke, he was not able to see inside, but he began to search for possible victims. Trooper Arnold, with his department-issued flashlight and fire extinguisher, began to search through the apartment room to room. He observed a fire alarm as well as a carbon monoxide alarm sounding. He continued his search and subsequently found a male lying in a bed face down in one of the bedrooms. Trooper Arnold called to the male but received no response. Trooper Arnold noticed in the kitchen area prior to entering the bedroom that there was a pot on the stove with a bright red fire and a lot of smoke coming from this area. Trooper Arnold extinguished the flame with his fire extinguisher, then returned to the victim. Trooper Arnold tried unsuccessfully to get a response from the victim, and had to resort to physically removing him from the apartment.
After Trooper Arnold began to remove the victim from the smoke-filled apartment, the victim began to awaken and began to resist the efforts of Trooper Arnold. Trooper Arnold attempted to explain to the victim that he was the police and he was there to assist him, but he continued to resist. Trooper Arnold noticed at this time that the victim was severely intoxicated and continued his efforts to extract him from the building. Trooper Arnold had to resort to forcibly removing him from the building. Soon after the victim was removed, the Hillsborough County Fire Department arrived on the scene and vented the apartment.
As a result of Trooper Arnold’s heroic efforts to remove the victim from the building filled not only with smoke but also carbon monoxide, the victim’s life was ultimately saved.
Trooper Arnold is commended for his quick and professional response to this potentially tragic incident. He is a 6-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C, Tampa.
March | Trooper Richard Keeling
Trooper Richard H. Keeling has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for March 2001, based on his actions which resulted in the apprehension of an individual wanted in the states of Florida and Georgia.
On Saturday, March 24, 2001, Trooper Keeling was on his regular day off and while visiting the Pinetta General Store in Madison County, he was approached by a female who requested his assistance regarding an individual living in Pinetta. The female advised him that she knew the individual was wanted in Florida for child molestation. She identified the individual as Alphonzo Martinez and provided a partial date of birth of June 10th. She further stated that she had contacted the Madison County Sheriff’s Office for assistance and was informed they could not take any action without a full date of birth. The lady stated that she was very concerned for the safety of the children in the area and asked for his assistance in removing the individual.
Trooper Keeling recorded the information given to him and returned to his residence. Trooper Keeling contacted Duty Officer Marie McNicol and after several minutes he was successful in identifying the subject and confirming that he was wanted for outstanding warrants in Polk County, Florida for Failure to Pay Child Support in the amount of $8000.00. He was also wanted in Jeff Davis County, Georgia for Violation of Probation for Child Molestation. Upon learning this information, Trooper Keeling contacted the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office advised him that they were unsure if they could arrest the individual for various reasons. Trooper Keeling refused to accept their response and remained adamant in his request that they arrest the individual and remove him from the area. After speaking with several deputies he was successful in convincing them to proceed to the individual’s location and take the individual into custody.
After the individual was taken into custody the Madison County Sheriff’s Office contacted Trooper Keeling and advised the individual may have outstanding warrants in South Carolina for the same offenses.
Because of Trooper Keeling’s persistence this individual was apprehended and removed from the community before he could harm anyone or commit any additional crimes. He performed this service on his regular day off without regard for the amount of time necessary to apprehend this individual. Trooper Keeling’s actions clearly indicate his commitment in keeping the Madison community safe and his personal dedication as a State Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol.
Trooper Keeling is a 20-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop H, Madison.
April | Trooper Charles Creel
Trooper Charles Creel has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for April 2001, based on his rescue and lifesaving actions of a young boy.
On April 11, 2001, at approximately 6:00 PM, Trooper Creel was off-duty at his residence. He had taken his dogs to a pond behind his house for them to swim. A neighbor, Josh Dimitroff, 13 years old, also came out with his dog. Josh’s dog swam out to the center of the pond and while out there the dog had a seizure. The dog went under and Josh went into the water, swimming toward him, yelling for him not to die. Trooper Creel saw this and jumped into the pond, swimming out to rescue the dog. Trooper Creel was able to reach the dog and he brought him back to the shore.
When he reached shore Trooper Creel looked around for Josh and saw him still in the water near where the dog had been rescued. Josh was yelling and having difficulty staying above water. Trooper Creel jumped back in the water to rescue Josh. Before he could reach him, Josh had gone under and resurfaced. Trooper Creel was able to reach Josh and bring him safely to the shore, rescuing him. The dog had expired, but Josh survived.
Because of the two rescues in quick succession, Trooper Creel was nearly overcome himself; he was physically drained from the rescues.
Trooper Charles Creel is to be commended for his quick actions, with little thought for his own safety, for saving the life of Josh Dimitroff.
Trooper Creel is a 20-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop H, Crawfordville.
May | Trooper Andrew Maurer
Trooper Andrew J. Maurer has been selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for May 2001, based on his assistance in rescuing twelve young children from a burning day care center.
On May 8, 2001, at approximately 3:19 p.m., Trooper Maurer was responding to the scene of a traffic crash when he spotted thick black smoke coming from a nearby building. He discovered the building to be a day care center located at Oak Ridge Road and Chipola Circle near Orlando.
Upon observing several small children and a day care worker running from the building, Trooper Maurer recognized the fire department had not yet arrived. Maurer immediately notified the fire department and then stopped and ran into the burning building and helped rescue the remaining 12 children from the fire. None of the children were injured thanks to the decisive action of Trooper Maurer.
Maurer acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is commended for his lifesaving actions.
Trooper Maurer is a 3-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop D, Orlando.
June | Trooper Robert Alonso
Trooper Robert Alonso from Troop F in Bradenton has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for June 2001 because of his rescue of an elderly female passenger from a partially submerged vehicle.
On June 2, 2001 at 1:50 PM, Trooper Alonso was dispatched to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 75 at the 79.5 mile marker where he was advised that the vehicle involved was partially submerged in a canal and no occupants had gotten out. Trooper Alonso was the first emergency responder on the scene. The vehicle, a 1996 Volvo, was unstable and partly resting on a canal embankment and nearly submerged in the water when you arrived. The driver of the vehicle was able to safely exit the car, but the elderly female passenger was still trapped in the vehicle, and could not open the doors to escape because the doors were wedged against the embankment. Trooper Alonso scaled a twelve-foot fence, entered the canal, and extracted the lady from the sinking vehicle, getting her to safety just before the shift of weight caused the unstable vehicle to slide down the embankment into the canal. Neither the driver nor the rescued passenger sustained any injuries.
Trooper Robert Alonso acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his lifesaving actions. We congratulate him for being selected as Trooper of the Month for June 2001!
July | Trooper Steve Julien
Trooper Steve Julien from Troop K in West Palm Beach has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for July 2001 because of his heroic efforts that saved the life of a passenger in a submerged vehicle.
On July 15, 2001, at 4:05 AM, Trooper Julien was traveling northbound on State Road 91 at approximately the 60 mile marker when he made contact with a driver who had just been involved in a traffic crash. The other driver’s vehicle, a full-sized Nissan Altima, had collided with a tree, left the roadway and plunged into a canal. The disoriented driver was pinned behind the steering wheel and the driver’s door of the partially submerged vehicle was jammed shut.
Trooper Julien entered the canal and attached a tow chain to the sinking vehicle and to his patrol car. Then he backed up his patrol car to put tension on the chain to keep the other vehicle from sinking further into the canal. The canal depth was approximately 8 to 10 feet at that location. Fire Rescue soon arrived, and the vehicle was cut open in order to remove the driver. The driver suffered serious injuries and was transported to Broward General Hospital for treatment. It was evident that Trooper Julien’s decisiveness and quick actions were instrumental in saving the driver’s life.
Trooper Julien acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his lifesaving actions. We congratulate Trooper Julien on being selected as Trooper of the Month for July 2001!
August | Trooper Thomas Ketterle
Trooper Thomas Ketterle, Troop L – Lantana, has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for August 2001, based on his heroic efforts that saved the lives of two passengers trapped in a burning vehicle.
On Tuesday, July 3, 2001, Trooper Ketterle was informed of a traffic crash on southbound SR9, south of Woolbright Road, while he was working an off duty employment detail. He responded to the call, and upon his arrival, found a vehicle on fire in the roadway. One passenger lay injured and not moving partially under the burning vehicle while the other passenger was trapped inside.
Trooper Ketterle took action, directing the assistance of bystanders to assist him in safely removing the injured passengers from the burning vehicle and moving them to a safe location to await rescue personnel. His swift and decisive actions were crucial to the injured persons’ survival. Trooper Ketterle acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his lifesaving actions!
September | Trooper Tammy Tindle
Trooper Tammy Tindle has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for September 2001 because of her assistance in physically apprehending a perpetrator in a domestic violence case.
On September 11, 2001, while at the Florida Highway Patrol station in Panama City, a victim of domestic abuse approached Trooper Tindle for help. Tindle notified the proper authorities and awaited their arrival. Near the end of her shift, Bay County Sheriff’s Deputy, Jim Jenkins arrived. Discovering that the deputy was short of backup, Tindle volunteered to accompany him to the home of the perpetrator to assist in making the arrest.
Upon attempting to make the arrest, a struggle ensued between Deputy Jenkins and the suspect, which resulted in the deputy being thrown to the ground and stripped of his hand radio. Trooper Tindle approached the suspect and used her flashlight to direct a single strike to the suspect’s left shoulder blade causing him to cease resistance. The perpetrator was secured without further incident. Because of Tindle’s quick and effective assistance in apprehending the suspect, a fellow law enforcement officer was spared potential serious injury, and a successful arrest was made.
Trooper Tammy Tindle acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for her actions. Again, we congratulate her on being selected as Trooper of the Month for September 2001!
October | Trooper Stephen Allain, Trooper James Mason and Trooper Clay Murphy
Congratulations to Troopers Stephen Allain, James Mason, and Clay Murphy for earning the Trooper of the Month Award for October 2001 for their apprehension of a double murder suspect in Putnam County.
On Wednesday, October 31, 2001, a BOLO was broadcast by the Jacksonville FHP dispatch concerning a double murder that had just occurred in Putnam County. The suspect, identified as a white male, 6’3″, 210 lbs., and possibly named Steven West, was driving a red 2-door Honda en route to Jacksonville. When our pilot, Clay Murphy, spotted the suspect’s vehicle on State Road 21 from the FHP airplane, our other two troopers responded to the area.
Within minutes of the BOLO broadcast, and with direction from the FHP airplane, our FHP troopers were able to locate the suspect’s vehicle and confirm the matching tag. At State Road 21 and County Road 218, Allain and Mason executed a felony traffic stop. Using their training and experience, they directed the suspect from his vehicle at gunpoint, safely positioning him on the ground. Our troopers apprehended the suspect without incident, and found the possible murder weapon in the vehicle. The suspect was arrested for the murder of two individuals in Putnam County.
Troopers Allain, Mason, and Murphy acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and are hereby commended for their actions. Again, congratulations on being selected as Trooper of the Month for October 2001!
November | Trooper Ronald Daniels
Congratulations to Trooper Ronald E. Daniels for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for November 2001, based on his heroic life-saving actions.
On November 26, 2001, Trooper Daniels responded to a major traffic crash involving a patrol car and another vehicle. Trooper Daniels was informed that a patrol car had been hit, and was advised by the communications center that an occupant was trapped inside the overturned vehicle. Within minutes of being notified of the incident, Daniels arrived on the scene. Trooper Daniels quickly assessed the situation and was able to determine that the vehicle that had rear-ended the patrol car had overturned, trapping its two occupants inside.
Daniels found both occupants suspended by their seatbelts. One occupant, an elderly female, was non-responsive. After cutting the passenger loose, Trooper Daniels realized she was not breathing and performed CPR. Daniels was able to successfully resuscitate Ms. Jeanne Buchanan, saving her life. Upon the arrival of medical personnel, Ms. Buchanan was flown to the hospital where she was soon in stable condition. Without a doubt, Daniels’ quick and heroic actions saved Ms. Buchanan’s life.
Trooper Ronald Daniels acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions. Again, we congratulate Trooper Daniels for being selected as Trooper of the Month for November 2001!
December | Trooper Ralph Lola
Congratulations! It is my pleasure to announce that Trooper Ralph W. Lola has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for December 2001, based on his quick actions and intervention involving an attack on a female victim.
On December 20, 2001, at approximately 1:15 A.M., Trooper Lola was traveling eastbound on State Road 90 at 985 when he noticed a male attempting to break into another vehicle. The suspect was trying to smash the driver’s side window to do harm to the driver trapped inside. Wasting no time, the trooper quickly called for assistance, confronted the subject, and placed him under arrest. The female victim, who feared for her life, was greatly relieved to see Trooper Lola apprehend her attacker.
According to the victim, her attacker was her estranged former boyfriend. He had been waiting for her in the parking lot outside her place of employment where he approached her and grabbed her cell phone. Not having any means of communication, she was trapped in her car without help. She managed to start her car and drive away, but he chased her in his vehicle and forced her from the road. The suspect was charged with robbery, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, burglary, and criminal mischief.
Trooper Ralph Lola acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and are hereby commended for your actions. Again, we congratulate him on being selected as Trooper of the Month for December 2001!