Member Recognition

2005 Troopers of the Month

January | Trooper Brandon McElderry

Congratulations to Trooper Brandon McElderry for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol’s Trooper of the Month for January 2005.

On January 5, 2005, Trooper McElderry was patrolling Interstate 275 in Hillsborough County when he stopped a vehicle for an expired temporary tag. The vehicle exited the interstate and came to a stop in the driveway of a residence where the driver fled on foot with Trooper McElderry close behind. After a brief struggle, Trooper McElderry sprayed the violator with his ASR that subsequently blinded the trooper. As the physical altercation became escalated, the blinded trooper continued to fight, even with the violator biting his face.

Feeling the suspect’s hand on his firearm, Trooper McElderry attempted to secure his weapon by falling down onto the ground and placing his hand on top of the violator’s hand as the weapon was fired. Unfortunately, Trooper McElderry was shot. The suspect fled into a populated neighborhood with the trooper’s firearm, leaving the trooper lying on the ground injured. Despite his injury, Trooper McElderry was able to radio for help and provide a good description to the Tampa Bay Communications Center. His description aided in the capture of the suspect while he was attempting to break into a nearby home.

Trooper McElderry’s efforts to attempt to arrest a fleeing suspect and his refusal to give up the fight lead to the apprehension of a career criminal who is no longer on Florida’s highways. Trooper McElderry acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is commended for his actions!

February | Trooper Michael Sutherland

Congratulations to Trooper Michael Sutherland for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2005 for his life saving actions using CPR to revive a crash victim.

On February 11, 2005, Trooper Sutherland was at his daughter’s house on his day off when he witnessed a traffic crash on a nearby street. Trooper Sutherland responded to the scene and upon arriving, observed two vehicles with heavy damage, one of which was still rolling to a stop. Trooper Sutherland was able to get this vehicle stopped and make contact with the driver who was shaken, but not injured.

Trooper Sutherland rushed to check on the driver of the second vehicle. He found a female driver unconscious and three children all crying for their mother. Trooper Sutherland was able to calm the children while he removed the driver from the vehicle and laid her flat on the ground. Trooper Sutherland evaluated the crash victim, opened her airway, and finding that she was not breathing, administered CPR.

After the first set of compressions, the victim gasped for air. Trooper Sutherland stopped CPR and began to monitor her condition while calling the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services for assistance.

Trooper Sutherland acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and is commended for his life saving actions.

March | Trooper Dana Croy and Trooper Santos Lopez

Congratulations to Troopers Dana Croy and Santos Lopez – Troop K (Orlando) for being selected as the co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for March 2005, for their attempts to save the life of a motorist trapped in a submerged vehicle.

On March 10, 2005, while conducting a traffic stop on State Road 528, Trooper Croy was informed by a passing motorist of a taxi that had left the roadway and traveled into a body of water, and immediately informed the communications center, requesting Fire Rescue services. Then, Trooper Croy located the taxi in the water off Frontage Road.

Trooper Santos Lopez soon responded to the location for assistance. Troopers Croy and Lopez maneuvered through two chain-link fences to get to the body of water where the taxi was sinking fast. After assessing that there was only the driver in the taxi, Trooper Lopez and two citizens swam out to the taxi to try to save the driver’s life. They removed the driver who was not breathing, and began CPR on him until Fire Rescue arrived. The taxi driver was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center where, unfortunately, he was pronounced dead.

Troopers Croy and Lopez acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their actions.

April | Sergeant Michael Black and Corporal Mark McGlynn

Congratulations to Sergeant Michael Black and Corporal Mark McGlynn for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for April 2005, for their brave attempt to save the life of a motorist trapped in a submerged vehicle.

On April 3, 2005, Sgt. Black and Cpl. McGlynn responded to the scene of a vehicle crash on the Florida Turnpike at the 165-mile post. The vehicle with a sole occupant had overturned and landed upside down in the canal on the northwest side of the roadway. The troopers immediately called for Emergency Medical Service(EMS).

Sgt. Black and Cpl. McGlynn entered the canal in waist deep water to attempt to save the occupant. After making several attempts to open the doors, the troopers were finally able to crack a side window gain entry into the vehicle, and remove the occupant. EMS personnel arrived on the scene and attempted to revive the victim, but were not successful. Despite sustaining injuries, Sgt. Black and Cpl. McGlynn pulled the victim from the vehicle without regard for their personal safety. These troopers acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their actions.

May | Trooper Carlos Austin and Trooper Jorge Lopez-Torres

Congratulations to Troopers Carlos R. Austin and Jorge L. Lopez-Torres for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for May 2005, for their heroic actions during a recent life-saving incident.

On May 10, 2005, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Trooper Austin and Trooper Lopez-Torres responded to a head-on crash that occurred on the Sawgrass Expressway involving a pick-up truck and a dump truck, which occurred approximately .1 mile south of State Road 870 in Broward County. Both vehicles ended up at final rest submerged in a canal located adjacent to the roadway. With the assistance of several passersby, Trooper Austin and Trooper Lopez-Torres entered the water to free the dump truck driver from the vehicle and rescued him. CPR was successfully administered to the victim prior to the arrival of emergency services personnel. The driver was subsequently transported to an area hospital in critical condition. Both troopers acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and are hereby commended for their actions.

June | Trooper Jose Hernandez, Trooper Velma Juarez, Trooper Samuel Johnson and Trooper Gifford Ramsey

Congratulations to Troopers Jose Hernandez, Velma Juarez, Samuel Johnson and Gifford Ramsey for being selected as Troopers of the Month for June 2005, for their actions in apprehending an aggressive driver who committed aggravated assault against a fellow motorist.

On Friday, June 24, 2005, a BOLO was given of an aggravated assault that occurred on State Road 874. The victim of the assault advised FHP dispatch that a white male driving a blue BMW pointed a pistol at him in a threatening manner. The incident started when the white male subject tried to cut in front of the victim. The victim moved his vehicle not allowing the subject to get in front. This aggravated the subject. The subject then started to tailgate the victim in an aggressive manner. The subject managed to position his vehicle alongside the victim and pointed a silver pistol at him. This is when the victim, fearing for his life, called FHP.

Duty Officer Gail Nees received the call and kept the victim on the phone while she alerted the troopers in the area of the situation. Duty Officer Nees is to be commended for her calm and professional handling of the situation. When the subject exited onto State Road 976, Troopers Hernandez, Juarez, Johnson, and Ramsey were waiting. The troopers conducted a felony traffic stop. As a result of the vigilance and quick professional actions of the FHP team, the subject was arrested, his weapon seized, and he was taken into custody without further incident. Good job!

July | Trooper Douglas Strickland and Trooper Ronald Drake

Congratulations to Troopers Douglas Strickland and Ronald Drake for being selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for July 2005, for their life-saving actions in rendering aid to a person injured in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis.

While performing assigned Response Team Duties during the Hurricane Dennis detail in the Florida Panhandle, Troopers Strickland and Drake were approached by a severely injured man who was bleeding profusely. It was obvious to the troopers that the victim had suffered a severe injury, severing his upper thigh just above the knee with a chain saw he had been using to cut up a tree blocking a roadway. The troopers recognized that the location of the injury and the amount of blood loss indicated the victim might have cut a major artery, and could be in danger of bleeding to death.

After applying a makeshift splint with a fallen limb, the troopers stabilized the man’s leg and maintained pressure on the wound. Keeping the injured man calm, they provided comfort to him and his wife. Since radio communication was not possible in the area assistance was sought from a nearby fire station. Upon the arrival of a local ambulance, the victim was transported to an area hospital for treatment. The quick thinking and first responder skills of Troopers Strickland and Drake helped save a man’s life, and they are commended for their actions!

August | Trooper Gary Bach

Congratulations to Trooper Gary Bach for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2005, for his life-saving actions in rendering aid to a child involved in a traffic crash.

On August 8, 2005, Trooper Bach arrived at the scene of a traffic crash on I-95 near the 108 mile post. Upon arrival, Trooper Bach observed several severely damaged vehicles and injured motorists, including a middle aged man holding a small child in his arms. Seeing that the man was frantic and wildly swinging the small child about, Trooper Bach approached the man, discovering that the small child he was holding was having difficulty breathing and was gasping for air. Trooper Bach calmly took control of the situation, evaluated the medical condition of the child, and called for the Martin County Fire Rescue. Trooper Bach noticed that the child had a severe bruise on the neck in the area of the trachea. He placed the child on the ground and opened the child’s airway, keeping it open until the medical team arrived. The child was airlifted to Saint Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach and treated for a crushed trachea. The child is expected to make a full recovery.

Trooper Bach acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions.

September | Trooper Michael Meier and Trooper Delmos Barfield, Jr.

Congratulations to Troopers Michael Meier and Delmos Barfield, Jr. for being selected as co-recipients of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for September 2005, for their apprehension of a murder suspect who was attempting to flee the state.

Shortly before midnight on September 27, 2005, FHP’s Tampa Bay Regional Communication Center received a BOLO from the Largo Police Department regarding a murder suspect who was possibly in a rest area within Troop C. Over the course of the next hour, several updates on the suspect were issued while troopers searched every rest area in the troop. The suspect was described as a trained military demolition expert and was considered armed and dangerous.

At approximately 1:20 AM, Troopers Michael Meier and Delmos Barfield, Jr., located the suspect’s vehicle in the northbound rest area on I-75 in Pasco County. Then they spotted the suspect at a nearby pay phone. Troopers Barfield and Meier secured the suspect at gunpoint and conducted a search, locating a very important piece of evidence necessary for the murder suspect’s successful prosecution. The suspect later made a full confession post-Miranda to Trooper Barfield.

Because of the quick response of Troopers Meier and Barfield, a possible nationwide manhunt was prevented and a wanted murderer was taken into custody.

October | Trooper Dan Cole and Trooper Charles Edwards

Florida’s famous Sunshine Skyway bridge attracts all kinds – some thrill seekers, some spectators, and some with suicide on their minds. On a recent sunny afternoon on top of the bridge, troopers stopped traffic for a few minutes while they did their job to prevent what could have been a real tragedy.

Trooper Charles Edwards was parked on top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during a recent shift on a suicide prevention detail, when a cab driver approached him and told him that a customer he was driving to Bradenton had just jumped out of the cab and run to the edge of the bridge. Trooper Edwards responded to find a man who claimed to be armed standing partially hanging over the cement barrier wall.

Since the suspect was thought to be armed, troopers were called for back-up to stop traffic on the bridge. Meanwhile, Trooper Edwards began to speak with the suspect, hoping to gain his trust until help arrived. Moments later, Trooper Dan Cole arrived and assessed the situation. When the opportunity presented itself, Trooper Cole charged the man, placing him into a tight bear hug and pulling him down to the ground. Trooper Edwards immediately gripped the subject’s hands while Trooper Cole secured the suspect.

The suspect was then searched and transported to a local hospital where he was Baker Acted by the FHP. Quick thinking, fast action, and bravery on the part of our troopers prevented a disaster and only inconvenienced the motoring public for less than ten minutes – great job!

November | Trooper Michael Uzzell

Congratulations to Trooper Michael Uzzell, Troop H – Tallahassee, for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2005, for his assistance in freeing a motorist trapped in an overturned vehicle involving a chemical and gas spill.

On November 8, 2005, while conducting a stationary laser detail on State Road 8 in Leon County, Trooper Uzzell observed a large recreational vehicle overturn just yards from his location. The crash caused the vehicle to collapse into a pile of rubble. He immediately responded to the crash, utilizing the radio to summon assistance. When Trooper Uzzell approached the vehicle he noticed that a propane tank attached to the vehicle was damaged and leaking heavily. Trooper Uzzell also discovered that a passenger was trapped under the vehicle debris and chemicals carried inside the vehicle had spilled, causing noxious gases to fill the area where he was trapped. The gases made it difficult for the trapped man and Trooper Uzzell to breathe. Despite these perils, Trooper Uzzell maintained his composure and began to attempt to free the trapped motorist while at the same time directing passersby and other first responders to approach with safety so as to eliminate the possibility of a propane explosion. After an extended wait for the Tallahassee Fire Department, which had to respond from the western side of Tallahassee in afternoon traffic, Trooper Uzzell finally relinquished control of the rescue efforts to firefighters who were more properly equipped to free the man.

Trooper Uzzell acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions.

December | Trooper Dan Cole

Congratulations to Trooper Daniel Cole for being selected as the recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month Award for December 2005, as a result of his apprehension of a suspect who was involved in a fatal hit and run crash involving a pedestrian.

On December 1, 2005, while Trooper Cole was investigating another crash on Interstate 275, he learned that a suspect who had just run over a person crossing a busy street was fleeing the scene on Interstate 275 in Pinellas County. Trooper Cole subsequently observed the suspect’s vehicle, which appeared to have fresh crash damage. The suspicious damage and the driver’s inability to maintain a single lane prompted Trooper Cole to temporarily excuse himself from the crash he was already investigating to pursue the suspect’s vehicle.

The suspect refused to stop, and eventually left the interstate, struck a curb, and finally disabled his vehicle. Trooper Cole approached the car and placed the suspect in custody. The suspect and vehicle were turned over to the St. Petersburg Police Department, the agency that was investigating the fatal hit and run crash.

As a result of Trooper Daniel Cole’s quick actions, a career criminal and habitual traffic offender was quickly captured. Trooper Cole acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions.