2004 Troopers of the Month
January | Lieutenant Bobby Mills
Congratulations to Lt. Bobby Mills for being selected as recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for January 2004 for his life saving actions of pulling a motorist from a burning vehicle.
On January 23rd, Lieutenant Bobby Mills heard a zone trooper being dispatched to respond to a head-on collision involving an overturned vehicle on fire. Being in close proximity, Lt. Mills advised the duty officer that he would assist. Upon arriving on the scene, Lt. Mills noticed smoke coming from an overturned vehicle. He immediately retrieved his fire extinguisher and ran toward the vehicle. As he got closer, he heard the voice of a female crying for help. The door of the overturned vehicle was jammed because of damages sustained in the crash. The fire quickly started to spread.
Lt. Mills used his fire extinguisher to try to keep the fire from burning the female victim. Another motorist arrived with a pick axe and began prying the car door open. After several attempts, the rear door was finally opened. While the motorist held the door open, Lt. Mills pulled the female passenger from the burning vehicle–only seconds before the car became fully engulfed in flames. Soon, the local Fire Department arrived on scene and extinguished the fire. The female victim, who was airlifted to the hospital with severe burns from her waist down, survived the crash thanks to the heroic efforts of Lt. Mills and a fellow motorist. Unfortunately, the two occupants in the other vehicle died from their crash injuries.
February | Trooper Philip Spaziante
Congratulations to Trooper Philip Spaziante for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2004, based on his life-saving actions involving the rescue of an infant and other occupants in a serious traffic crash.
On February 15, 2004, Trooper Spaziante was patrolling eastbound on CR 274 when he observed a vehicle traveling westbound in the eastbound lane coming head-on at him. This vehicle was passing another vehicle on a hill and curve where passing was prohibited. He clocked the passing vehicle at 81 MPH in a 55 MPH zone before the oncoming vehicle forced him off the roadway. Suddenly, the vehicle ran off the roadway, struck a culvert and overturned.
Trooper Spaziante observed the crash as he was turning around to overtake the vehicle for enforcement action. When he approached the crashed vehicle, he observed two adults and two children in the vehicle and began rendering first aid to the occupants. The children began crying and advised him that the baby was missing. The youngest child, a one year old, was ejected from her child restraint and thrown out of the vehicle when it overturned. Trooper Spaziante began searching the area for the missing baby and found her in a ditch. The baby was unresponsive and not breathing so he immediately started life saving techniques by clearing the baby’s airway until she started coughing up blood and crying. Trooper Spaziante then wrapped the baby in his Florida Highway Patrol coat and provided first aid to the baby and the other crash victims until emergency medical services arrived on the scene. The baby was airlifted to a hospital in Tallahassee with critical injuries. Thanks to Trooper Philip Spaziante’s brave efforts the child survived the crash and continues to recover from her injuries.
Trooper Spaziante acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his brave actions. He is greatly appreciated!
March | Corporal Richard Warden and Trooper Milton Brown
Congratulations to Corporal Richard Warden and Trooper Milton Brown, Troop A (Marianna) for being selected for FHP’s Trooper of the Month Award for March 2004!
On March 27, 2004, at approximately 10:00 A.M., Corporal Richard Warden and Trooper Milton Brown were at the Bonifay Police Department completing a traffic fatality that had occurred earlier that morning. Trooper Brown then left and Corporal Warden remained to complete a press release.
Officer Stephen Lee, a Bonifay police officer, had just responded to a call at a residence where the situation suddenly turned violent. Officer Lee was shot by a subject at the residence, and called for assistance. Hearing of this, Corporal Warden immediately left the P.D., responded as backup, and notified Trooper Brown via radio. Trooper Brown was close and immediately responded as well.
Corporal Warden arrived first to find Officer Lee shot and on the ground. The suspect was standing in his yard with an assault rifle aimed in his direction. Corporal Warden then placed his patrol car in between the suspect and the officer in order to protect him. He then fired at the suspect to protect them both. Trooper Brown also arrived and parked in a strategic location not far from Warden. Brown then exited his vehicle with his shotgun and began working his way towards the front of the suspect’s house via the ditch on the opposite side of the street. By then the suspect had retreated inside his house and was firing at both troopers repeatedly with the rifle. They returned fire as needed during the course of the entire event.
After an extensive exchange of gunfire, which ultimately included the Holmes and Washington County Sheriff’s Departments, things subsided and the suspect disappeared from view. A tactical team discharged tear gas into the house and entered the dwelling after no response. They found the suspect unconscious and incapacitated on the floor.
After being up all night long, enduring this traumatic event and subsequent questioning and debriefing, both officers were not through for the day. They both insisted on traveling to Dothan, Alabama to check on their fallen comrade. Only after being able to see Officer Lee and briefly speak with him after surgery did they agree to call it a day.
It is clearly evident that both troopers placed themselves in great personal danger to save the life of a fellow officer. Had they not quickly responded, strategically placed their cars and returned fire, the consequences would have certainly been grave. Their heroic action is in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and worthy of recognition.
Officer Lee continues to improve and is expected to fully recover. Incidentally, he is the officer credited with saving Trooper Christopher A. McAdam’s life in 1998, when McAdam went into anaphylactic shock after an insect bite he received while on duty.
The suspect who shot Officer Lee died of bullet wounds suffered during the exchange of gun fire with law enforcement.
April | Trooper Colise Frazier and Trooper Jennifer Kibler
Trooper Colise Frazier and Trooper Jennifer Kibler, Troop G-St. Augustine, are credited with saving the life of a truck driver who was involved in a serious traffic crash. The two troopers were working security at the St. Johns County Rest Area on April 21st, when, at approximately 11:40 PM, a semi that had just left the rest area traveling southbound on I-95 and a second semi, also traveling southbound, were involved in a traffic crash. The driver of the second semi apparently fell asleep and ran into the back of the other truck. After impact, the semi that was struck from behind caught on fire. The driver was trapped inside his crushed cab, which was pinned against a metal guardrail.
Troopers Frazier and Kibler heard the crash and immediately responded to the scene. Upon arrival, they observed the flames around the cab of the truck rising higher and higher. They both retrieved their fire extinguishers from their patrol cars, and along with the driver of the first semi truck, extinguished the fire. Smoke had consumed the cab where the driver was trapped. Trooper Frazier quickly used his FHP-issued Res-Q-Me device, climbed onto the passenger side of the truck, and broke out the window so the smoke could escape and the driver could breathe fresh air.
St. Johns County Fire-Rescue arrived on the scene, and after several minutes finally removed the driver from the vehicle. He was taken to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine with injuries consisting of a broken leg and minor burns. If not for the quick response by Troopers Frazier and Kibler, the trucker might not have survived the crash. Thanks to these two troopers for their excellent rescue work!
May | Trooper David Hicks
Congratulations to Trooper David Hicks for being selected as Trooper of the Month for May 2004, for his quick response and brave assistance to a fellow law enforcement officer who was shot in an ambush.
On May 12th, while on patrol in north Santa Rosa County, Trooper Hicks responded to a call for help involving a fellow law enforcement officer who had been shot. When Trooper Hicks arrived on the scene, he was met by the wounded officer, who had fled from his patrol car when he came under fire. The Deputy had sustained gunshot wounds to his abdomen, upper arm and hand. Trooper Hicks immediately positioned his patrol car in a defensive position, called for help, and began administering first aid to the wounded officer–reassuring him that he would be okay and medical assistance was on the way.
Trooper Hicks then called for additional units that included FHP personnel and units from the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office. A perimeter was quickly set up when it was determined that the suspect was barricaded in his residence. A standoff ensued for several hours. The following morning, a SWAT team finally entered the house, only to discover the suspect had taken his own life.
Trooper Hicks’s quick response and willingness to put his life on the line for a fellow officer showed great courage! He acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol. For his actions, Trooper Hicks was chosen as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2004.
June | Trooper Mark Cross and Trooper Daniel Cole
Congratulations to Troopers Mark Cross and Daniel Cole for being selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for June 2004 for their quick life-saving response in preventing a man from jumping from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Hillsborough County.
On May 31, 2004, Troopers Daniel Cole and Mark Cross arrived at the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to find a man threatening to jump in the water below. As they talked to the man, he became more and more desperate and began to stand on one leg on top of the barrier. While Trooper Cross maintained a dialogue with the man, Trooper Cole circled around in the darkness and got behind him unnoticed. Trooper Cole then rushed the subject and grabbed his arms as he began to fall over the side of the bridge. Together, the troopers pulled the man off the wall and back to safety.
Both troopers acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their actions, and congratulated for being selected as Troopers of the Month for June 2004!
July | Trooper Darryl Haywood
Congratulations to Trooper Darryl Haywood for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol’s Trooper of the Month for July 2004 for his life-saving actions in pulling a motorist from a burning vehicle.
On Sunday, July 25, 2004, at approximately 6:40 A.M., while on patrol on I-95 Trooper Haywood came upon a single vehicle crash. The driver of the vehicle had fallen asleep, left the roadway, overturned, and struck a tree. When Trooper Haywood arrived on the scene, the vehicle was on fire with the driver still inside. Trooper Haywood quickly approached the burning vehicle, broke out a window, and removed the driver from danger.
Trooper Haywood’s quick actions helped save a life! He acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his brave actions.
August | Corporal Helen McCoy
Congratulations to Corporal Helen McCoy for being selected as FHP’s Trooper of the Month for August 2004, for her quick life-saving actions in freeing a motorist who was pinned beneath his car after his tire jack broke.
On August 24, 2004, while filling her patrol car’s gas tank at a Polk County gas facility, Corporal McCoy heard a faint cry for help coming from the distance. Corporal McCoy stopped filling her gas tank and immediately began to patrol through the adjoining neighborhood. Corporal McCoy finally located a lady frantically working on a car jack. Corporal McCoy asked if she needed assistance and the lady pointed to a car that was on the ground and told her that there was a man under the car.
Corporal McCoy summoned the assistance of the Polk County EMS, and then used her patrol car’s jack to raise the car from on top of the victim. With the car in the air, Corporal McCoy began to triage his injuries and performed first aid until EMS arrived. The victim suffered injuries to his upper torso and burns across his body. Further investigation revealed that he had been working under the car when the jack collapsed and came crushing down on him.
Corporal Helen McCoy acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is commended for her actions!
September | Sergeant David Drake, Trooper Philip Spaziante, Duty Officer Frances Dunn and Duty Officer David Roark
On September 20th, 2004, at 3:23 AM, Duty Officer Frances Dunn at the Tallahassee Regional Communications Center received a call from a frantic caller who was traveling south in Bay County on U.S. Highway 231 in a runaway vehicle with its accelerator stuck. Realizing that this was a potential life-threatening situation, Duty Officer Dunn gave the caller several possible solutions in an attempt to stop their vehicle. Acting on the advice, the driver tried everything–switching the engine off, using the emergency brake, shifting gears–nothing worked. All attempts to stop the vehicle were useless. Soon, the cellular phone connection was lost!
In the meantime, Duty Officer David Roark had gathered all necessary information and broadcast a BOLO to all troopers patrolling the area in Bay County. Then, Duty Officer Roark made contact with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, remaining on the telephone with them to relay vital information to the FHP field units.
Trooper Phillip Spaziante and Sergeant David Drake (Troop A) soon responded, locating the runaway vehicle. With the assistance of Duty Officer Roark and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, vital information was promptly relayed to the family regarding the procedures that would take place in an attempt to stop their vehicle safely and without incident. The troopers would attempt to slow their vehicle using their patrol cars.
Trooper Spaziante began following the vehicle southbound at approximately 120 miles per hour. Sergeant Drake was able to accelerate his patrol car and place it in front of the runaway vehicle. Other Florida Highway Patrol units, sheriff’s department units and city police department units began to stop traffic at the major intersections ahead of the runaway vehicle. Sergeant Drake and Trooper Spaziante knew that the vehicle was going way too fast to negotiate the upcoming intersection of U.S. Highways 231 & 98, so they had to work quickly to stop the vehicle. They knew if the vehicle crashed going that fast the result would most likely be fatal.
Sgt. Drake attempted to stop the runaway vehicle with his patrol car by slowing his patrol car down in front of the runaway vehicle until the front bumper of the runaway vehicle made contact with the rear bumper of his patrol car. Sergeant Drake then applied his brakes to try and stop the runaway vehicle. Sgt. Drake was able to slow the vehicle down to 95 miles per hour before the driver started to lose control. Sgt. Drake steered right and accelerated away from the vehicle to allow the driver to regain full control of the vehicle. The driver of the runaway vehicle did regain control and he passed Sgt. Drake’s patrol car.
Trooper Spaziante then pulled ahead of the runaway vehicle to attempt to stop the vehicle. Suddenly, the right front tire blew on the runaway vehicle and it slowed to approximately 80 miles per hour. Trooper Spaziante then attempted to stop the runaway vehicle by slowing his patrol car down, allowing the front bumper of the runaway vehicle to make contact with the rear bumper of his patrol car. The driver of the runaway vehicle again started to lose control of the vehicle. Trooper Spaziante made another attempt to stop the runaway vehicle using the rear of his patrol car. This time the driver of the runaway vehicle was able to maintain control of the vehicle and stay behind Trooper Spaziante’s patrol car. Trooper Spaziante used his brakes to bring the runaway vehicle to a stop. The runaway vehicle’s engine was still running full throttle and slightly pushing Trooper Spaziante’s patrol car forward. Several officers quickly pulled the family out of the vehicle while Sgt. Drake entered the vehicle and shut the engine down. The vehicle was stopped about 1 1/2 miles north of the dangerous intersection where a serious crash would have occurred.
Thanks to the courageous actions of Sergeant Drake and Trooper Spaziante, a serious crash that most surely would have resulted in fatalities was prevented. All FHP members involved are to be commended on their quick thinking and professional actions that resulted in this life saving event!
October | Corporal Terry Tiley, Trooper Richard Holland and Trooper Mike Idziorek
Congratulations to Corporal Terry Tiley, Trooper Richard Holland and Trooper Mike Idziorek for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol’s October 2004 Troopers of the Month for saving the life of a man attempting to commit suicide.
In early October, Corporal Tiley and Troopers Idziorek and Holland were working the Florida Turnpike when they came in contact with a man attempting to commit suicide on a State Road 429 overpass. Upon arrival, they found a white pickup truck parked in the safety zone with the driver’s side door open and a white male sitting in the driver’s seat. As the troopers approached, they noticed that the man had a rope around his neck with the end tied to a light pole.
When the subject saw the troopers, he scrambled out of the truck and made a move toward the concrete barrier wall with the intention of jumping. Together, the troopers were able to apprehend the man and prevent him from jumping off the overpass. After calming the man down and speaking with him for over an hour, they were able to convince him not to try to harm himself. Finally, the troopers were able to take the subject into custody and have him Baker Acted for his own protection. The man was safely transported to an area mental hospital where he will receive the help he needs.
Thanks to the quick actions of these three troopers, a man’s life was saved. They acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are commended for their brave actions!
November | Trooper Rodger Carpenter
Congratulations to Trooper Rodger Carpenter for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for November 2004 for his life-saving actions in pulling a motorist from a submerged vehicle.
On November 6, 2004, while off duty at his home residence, Trooper Carpenter observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. He then witnessed the vehicle leave the roadway and travel across a neighbor’s yard, continue through a fence and a screen enclosure, and into a swimming pool.
Quickly, Trooper Carpenter ran to the scene and jumped into the pool to rescue the driver, an elderly lady who was slumped over the steering wheel unconscious. After he pulled the lady from the submerged vehicle to safety, she soon regained consciousness.
Trooper Carpenter’s quick actions saved the woman’s life! He acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is commended for his actions.
December | Trooper Christian Pimentel
Congratulations to Trooper Christian Pimentel for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2004, based on a traffic stop which lead to the arrest of two suspects who were wanted for attempted murder.
On December 20, 2004, Trooper Pimentel was contacted by a detective with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office who advised him that the handgun he had found during a recent traffic stop had been used in a drive-by shooting where a subject had been shot. They advised that since Trooper Pimentel had issued the passenger a citation for the seat belt violation, they were able to successfully link the passenger to being in the car with the gun at the time of the shooting. Both the driver and passenger were arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Trooper Pimentel demonstrated excellent police work while conducting a traffic stop on October 3, 2004. Trooper Pimentel was patrolling Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County when he stopped a vehicle for a faulty equipment violation. When Trooper Pimentel ran a computer check of the driver and passenger, he discovered that the driver was wanted for arrest. Trooper Pimentel immediately arrested the driver and secured him in his patrol car. During a search of the suspect’s vehicle, Trooper Pimentel found a handgun, which he seized and turned over to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for safekeeping. The passenger was issued a citation for not wearing a seat belt and the vehicle was towed away prior to Trooper Pimentel taking the suspect to jail for booking.
Trooper Pimentel’s performance of looking past the traffic stop and going the extra mile helped remove two criminals from our roadways. Pimentel is an 8-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol assigned to Troop C-Tampa.