2002 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper Jose Hernandez
Congratulations to Trooper Jose Hernandez for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for January 2002, based on his quick actions and intervention involving the treatment of victims of a severe traffic crash.
On Monday, January 21, 2002, Trooper Hernandez was dispatched to a head on traffic crash on State Road 997. After arriving on the scene, he immediately called Miami Dade Fire Rescue for assistance while he began treating the victims. When the overturned vehicle suddenly ignited in flames with the driver trapped inside, Trooper Hernandez quickly used his fire extinguisher to attempt to get the fire under control. However, the fire burned out of control and the vehicle became fully engulfed in the flames. Without regard for his own safety, he crawled under the burning vehicle and pulled the driver to safety. It is unfortunate that the victim had already suffered fatal injuries from the crash and did not survive. However, due to Trooper Hernandez’ heroism, the occupant was saved from burning in the vehicle, and the other crash victims received prompt assistance.
Trooper Jose Hernandez acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his brave actions. Congratulations on being selected as Trooper of the Month for January 2002!
February | Sergeant Jorge Delahoz
Congratulations to Sgt. Jorge Delahoz for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for February 2002, based on his rescue of a victim of domestic violence and kidnapping and the apprehension of the suspect.
On February 16, 2002, Sgt. Delahoz went above the call of duty and apprehended a suspect who had abducted his estranged wife and was threatening to kill her. As Delahoz was traveling north on I-95 at the 224-mile marker, he spotted the suspect’s white Range Rover, and followed it to the rest area. After ordering the driver out of the vehicle at gunpoint, Sgt. Delahoz rescued the female passenger who had been badly beaten. The suspect was arrested for kidnapping and domestic violence, among other charges. Sergeant Delahoz’s persistence and quick actions helped save the lives of two people.
Sgt. Delahoz acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions. He is greatly appreciated!
March | Trooper Michael Olaciregui
Congratulations to Trooper Michael Olaciregui who has been selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol “Trooper of the Month” award for March 2002, based on his quick actions in preventing a possible suicide and injury to motorists.
On March 8, 2002, Trooper Olaciregui was advised of a woman screaming for help on the State Road 93 overpass to Indian Trace. Olaciregui immediately responded and observed a male who had straddled the wall, apparently attempting to jump to the roadway below, with a woman holding on to him screaming for help. He quickly ran up the embankment and grabbed the subject, pulling him from the wall and restraining him. The suspect was later transported to Memorial Hospital under the Baker Act.
Trooper Olaciregui acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is commended for his actions. He is greatly appreciated!
April | Trooper Gary Palevoda
Congratulations to Trooper Gary S. Palevoda for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for April 2002, based on his rescue of a handicapped occupant from a submerged vehicle and his heroic attempts at saving the motorist’s life.
While on routine patrol on Thursday, April 25, 2002, at approximately 6:00 P.M., Trooper Palevoda observed several vehicles pulling off State Road 715 near a lake in Belle Glade. When he approached the area, he saw a van sinking in the lake with an occupant trapped inside. Without hesitation, Trooper Palevoda jumped into the water and swam to the submerged van to rescue the driver. He dove under the water, attempting to free the driver. Even though his efforts were hindered by the fact that the occupant was a handicapped driver in a wheel chair with special restraints, he was eventually able to pull the driver free and bring the driver to the surface. After performing CPR, he had the driver brought to shore so he could be transported to the hospital. Unfortunately, the driver later expired at the hospital.
Trooper Gary Palevoda acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his brave actions.
May | Trooper Tanya Stevens
Congratulations to Trooper Tanya Stevens for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for May 2002 for her assistance with CPR to help save a woman’s life.
While working an off duty detail at the Four Corners of Lauderhill Bingo Hall, Trooper Stevens was advised of an emergency inside the building. Stevens immediately responded and entered the building. There she saw a woman lying unconscious on the floor and another woman beginning to administer CPR. After retrieving her pocket mask, Trooper Stevens began assisting the other woman (Ms. Heafy) with CPR, and continued until the paramedics could revive the victim with a defibrillator. The victim is expected to recover fully, thanks to Trooper Stevens’ and Ms. Heafy’s life saving actions. T
rooper Tanya Stevens acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for her actions!
June | Corporal Robert Ashburn and Trooper Jon Leohner
Congratulations to Corporal Robert S. Ashburn & Trooper Jon T. Leohner for being selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for June 2002, based on their assistance in saving the life of a crash victim trapped in a burning vehicle.
On Saturday, June 22, 2002, while working off duty at the Madison County rest area, Corporal Ashburn and Trooper Leohner responded to a call regarding a serious traffic crash on Interstate 10 at the 266-mile post. Upon arrival, they observed that an occupant was partially ejected through the driver’s door, while others lay on the ground nearby receiving first aid from civilians who had stopped to help. They also observed flames emitting from the engine compartment. While Trooper Leohner ran for his fire extinguisher, Corporal Ashburn began helping the two civilians who were attempting to free the partially ejected occupant from the vehicle.
As the vehicle continued to burn despite Trooper Leohner’s efforts to extinguish the flames, Corporal Ashburn entered the car. Risking injury from continued exposure to the fire extinguisher chemicals, he proceeded to free the trapped occupant’s leg, which enabled the victim to be removed from the overturned vehicle and delivered to safety. In rescuing the trapped occupant and ensuring the safety of others, Corporal Ashburn and Trooper Leohner acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their heroic actions. Congratulations on being selected as Troopers of the Month for June 2002!
July | Trooper Ronald Roberts
Congratulations to Trooper Ronald L. Roberts for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for July 2002, based on his brave efforts in saving the lives of an elderly couple trapped in a canal in their overturned vehicle.
On July 3, 2002, while on routine patrol on State Road 9 northbound, Trooper Roberts observed an individual on the side of the interstate motioning for help. When Roberts stopped to assist, he was informed that a crash had just occurred. Trooper Roberts quickly discovered the crashed vehicle, which had plowed through dense undergrowth and overturned in a canal. He immediately went to assess the situation and began offering assistance to the two occupants. Trooper Roberts quickly cut the seat belt from the elderly male driver. The female passenger required his help to keep her head above water until medical and rescue personnel arrived.
In rescuing the trapped occupants and ensuring their safety, Trooper Ronald Roberts acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions. Again, congratulations on being selected as Trooper of the Month for July 2002!
August | Trooper Archie McNair
Congratulations to Trooper Archie McNair for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for August 2002, based on his efforts in saving the life of FHP Auxiliary Lt. James Porter when his vehicle became submerged in a canal.
On August 7, 2002, while driving west on Lake Worth Road in Palm Beach County, Trooper McNair observed Lt. Porter’s vehicle, which had been following him, slowly travel south for approximately 60 feet, then enter a canal. The vehicle was quickly becoming totally submerged in the water. Trooper McNair immediately entered the canal to find Lt. Porter semi-unconscious and trapped in the vehicle. After attempting to open the door, he asked a bystander to retrieve his PR-24 baton to break the window. With the help of two other motorists, Trooper McNair was able to pull Lt. Porter from the vehicle to safety. Because of Trooper McNair’s life-saving actions, Lt. Porter only received only minor injuries as a result of this incident.
Trooper Archie McNair acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions. Again, congratulations on being selected as Trooper of the Month for August 2002!
September | Trooper Richard Elliott
Congratulations to Trooper Richard Elliott for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for September 2002, based on his efforts in pursuing and apprehending a suspected drug dealer.
On September 3, 2002, while on routine patrol on Highway 90 in Quincy, Trooper Elliott stopped a subject for a cracked windshield. Noticing a woman and a child passenger, a pistol, and a small amount of drugs inside the vehicle, Trooper Elliott directed the subject back to his patrol car. However, the subject bolted and ran back to his car in an attempt to flee. Trooper Elliott was able to talk the subject into getting back out of his car. Back up was called, but had not yet arrived when the subject suddenly bolted again, throwing a full can of soda at Elliott, hitting him in the throat. The subject fled the scene.
A pursuit was authorized and the suspect was chased to State Road 20 in Liberty County where he abandoned the car and ran into the woods. A perimeter was set up and a K-9 unit was called. Two hours later, the subject was apprehended. While searching the vehicle, a mobile methamphetamine lab was discovered, along with the highly volatile chemicals used to manufacture the drug. The suspect and his wife were both charged with several felonies, including drug possession, trafficking, fleeing an officer, and child abuse/neglect.
Trooper Richard Elliott acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his brave actions.
October | Trooper Eddie Moorer
Congratulations to Trooper Eddie Moorer for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for October 2002, based on his successful efforts in saving a man’s life.
On October 17, 2002, while on routine patrol on the East-West Expressway in Orlando, Trooper Eddie Moorer spotted a white Lincoln stopped in the median with the driver slumped over the wheel. When Trooper Moorer approached the vehicle, he found that the 72-year old male driver was unconscious. After gaining access to the locked vehicle, Trooper Moorer removed the man from his car with the help of an Orange County deputy, and immediately began CPR on the victim. Trooper Moorer’s use of a defibrillator on the victim saved his life. Paramedics then arrived on the scene and transported the man to a local hospital.
Trooper Eddie Moorer acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his brave actions.
November | Trooper Benjamin Fargo
Congratulations to Trooper Benjamin E. Fargo for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for November 2002, based on his brave efforts to save a child’s life.
On November 8, 2002, while Trooper Fargo was assigned to Hireback back duties at the Lake Worth Service Plaza, he responded to a rollover crash with injuries on the Turnpike. After being advised that a vehicle was in the canal southbound at the 92-mile post, he immediately took action. Upon arrival, Trooper Fargo located the driver on the bank of the canal, and realizing her child was still trapped in the submerged vehicle, quickly jumped into the canal in an attempt to rescue the child. Gaining access by using his PR 24 baton to break the driver’s side window, he reached in to remove the small child. Trooper Fargo administered CPR until the arrival of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue personnel, who transported the child to Wellington Regional Hospital where he later expired.
Trooper Benjamin Fargo acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions. He is greatly appreciated.
December | Sergeant James Johnson
Congratulations to Sergeant James Johnson for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month award for December 2002, based on his courageous actions involving two armed and dangerous bank robbers.
On December 27, 2002, Sgt. Johnson responded to a BOLO for two armed men who robbed a bank in Malone. While conducting surveillance at one of the suspect’s residence, Sgt. Johnson spotted the vehicle, and attempted a felony traffic stop. The suspect fled. Sgt. Johnson initiated a pursuit, during which one of the suspects fired several gunshots at him from the window with a handgun. Despite the personal danger to himself, Sgt. Johnson continued the pursuit of the two suspects until they crashed their vehicle. One of the suspects shot two more rounds at him, then killed himself before Sgt. Johnson could return fire. The other suspect surrendered and was placed under arrest.
Sgt. Johnson acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is hereby commended for his actions.