2007 Troopers of the Month
January | Trooper Edward Pope
Congratulations to Trooper Edward Pope for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2007, for arresting four individuals involved in drug activity in the Charlotte County area.
On Saturday, December 23, 2006, Trooper Pope received information on illegal drug activity in the Charlotte County area. The information revealed that two suspects were targeting another individual with the intent to kill him. Trooper Pope located the targeted individual at his residence and arrested him on an active warrant. He then obtained information from this individual regarding the two suspects who were looking for him. Further investigation revealed that one of the suspects was on Charlotte County’s Most Wanted list.
On January 10, 2007, Trooper Pope and Corporal David Staley tracked down one of the suspects, but when Trooper Pope attempted to speak with him, he ran out the back door of his house, attempting to flee. However, Corporal Staley was waiting in the back for him and was able to apprehend him without incident. Trooper Pope then arranged a meeting between this suspect and the other individual from Charlotte County’s Most Wanted list.
With the assistance of the United States Fugitive Task Force and Trooper Allen Williams, Corporal Cale Stevens, and Corporal Staley, Trooper Pope initiated an action plan to apprehend the last suspect. He set up the meeting at Salyers Park in Charlotte County. The fugitive arrived at Salyers Park in a gold SUV, as Trooper Pope was told he would. Trooper Pope was able to identify the wanted individual as the front seat passenger. A traffic stop was subsequently conducted on the SUV.
The traffic stop yielded approximately 461 grams of marijuana, 13 grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and two large knives. The driver and passenger were charged with the possession of the drugs and paraphernalia. The driver was also charged with driving on a suspended license. The SUV was seized for forfeiture, but was returned to the lien holder.
Trooper Pope is commended for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2007, and for receiving this award for an unprecedented four times.
Trooper Pope’s previous awards were received in January, May and July of 2006.
February | Trooper John Castleberry
Congratulations to Trooper John Castleberry for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2007, for saving the life of a man who was having a heart attack.
Recently, while on a snow skiing vacation in Colorado, Trooper John Castleberry saved the life of a fellow skier by administering CPR for over 15 minutes after the skier had suffered a heart attack. Trooper Castleberry was able to resuscitate the man, thanks to his quick actions and his first responder training. What makes Trooper Castleberry’s actions so important is that he was off-duty and not bound by any expectations to act, yet did so benevolently and with great regard for human life.
Trooper Castleberry is commended for his life-saving actions and for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2007.
March | Trooper Elliot Gonzalez
Congratulations to Trooper Elliot Gonzalez for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2007, for looking beyond a traffic stop to make multiple arrests on drug possession charges.
On March 13, 2007, Trooper Gonzalez stopped a black Dodge pickup truck towing a trailer for a toll violation at the 107 mile marker on the Florida Turnpike in Palm Beach County. During the traffic stop, Trooper Gonzalez identified the contents within the trailer to be marijuana cultivation equipment. He also recovered a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a loaded 12 gauge Remington shotgun. As a result of his findings, Trooper Gonzalez arrested the driver and seized the truck, trailer, the contents within the trailer and both weapons. During the inventory of the truck and the trailer contents, Trooper Gonzalez discovered a check with the name of one of the truck occupants with a Loxahatchee address.
After further investigation, Trooper Gonzalez suspected this address could lead to a possible marijuana grow house location. Therefore, Trooper Gonzalez contacted members of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force and made contact with the occupants of the residence. Permission to enter the residence was granted by the occupants of the house. As a result of Trooper Gonzalez’s hard work and instincts, a large hydroponic marijuana grow house was discovered. Sixty nine hydroponic marijuana plants were eradicated from the garage of this residence, along with more than seven pounds of marijuana. The total value of marijuana that was discovered exceeded $75,000 dollars. The value of the hydroponic cultivation equipment seized was over $100,000.
Trooper Gonzalez is commended for his excellent police work and investigative skills and for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2007.
April | Lieutenant Bobby Collins
Congratulations to Lieutenant Bobby Collins for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2007, for his excellent investigation skills in two separate cases; one, which led to the arrest of a county tax collector’s official and the other, which led to the arrest of a notorious bank robber.
An extensive public corruption investigation conducted by Lt. Bobby Collins ultimately led to the identification of a public official within one of Florida’s county tax collector’s office who was falsifying legal documents, illegally changing the status of Non-Immigrants to United States Citizens and providing valid Florida Drivers Licenses, some of which were Commercial Drivers Licenses, to ineligible customers. Lt. Collins’s investigation not only resulted in the arrest of the county official, but also of the customers who were later arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April 2007.
In addition, Lt. Collins recently demonstrated diligence and excellent investigative skills through his assistance with an investigation, which led to the arrest of Tampa Bay’s most notorious bank robber who was finally found guilty in the United States Courthouse in April 2007.
Lieutenant Collins is commended for his excellent police work and investigative skills in both cases and for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2007.
May | Sergeant Belarmino Martinez
Congratulations to Sgt. Belarmino Martinez for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2007 for saving the lives of two elderly women from possible drowning in the Pacific Ocean.
While honeymooning in Panama, Sergeant Martinez was swimming in the rough Pacific Ocean where the undertow and riptides were extremely fierce, when he observed two elderly females sitting in the water close to the shoreline with their teenage granddaughter. A lifeguard had twice warned the females earlier to stay out of the water and close to shore as they could not swim, but they did not heed this advice.
Suddenly, Sergeant Martinez observed one of the women being dragged further into the ocean and rolling head-over-heels. Without hesitating, he quickly swam towards her, grabbed her, and pulled her approximately fifty yards to safety on the shore. As he was doing so, he saw the granddaughter struggling to try to hold onto the other elderly woman who was being pulled further out into the ocean. He quickly swam back to her and pulled her to shore while the granddaughter tumbled her way to safety. The lifeguard, who had been standing on the shore with other bystanders and did not enter the water, then checked on the women’s well-being as they were coughing and having difficulty breathing due to swallowing so much saltwater. After ensuring their safety, the lifeguard instructed the women not to enter the water again.
If not for Sergeant Martinez’s fearless, quick reaction and lack of hesitation, the elderly women could have been swept out into the ocean and drowned, especially since the lifeguard did not once enter the water to assist with the lifesaving efforts.
June | Trooper Thomas Winders
Congratulations to Trooper Thomas Winders for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2007, for your efforts to save the lives of two motorists by pulling them from their submerged vehicle.
On Friday, June 22, 2007, a vehicle crash occurred on State Road 91, one mile south of State Road 802, when the driver of a black 2004 Acura lost control and traveled into a deep water canal. In seconds, the vehicle was completely submerged in the water with two occupants trapped inside.
Trooper Thomas Winders arrived on the scene, along with Trooper Christopher Zarazinski. While Trooper Zarazinski maintained control of the scene, Trooper Winders entered the water in an attempt to rescue the victims. He was able to cut the seatbelt off the female occupant and pull her to shore. Then Trooper Winders went back into the canal to rescue the male passenger and bring him to shore. Neither of the victims was breathing at this time.
Several Good Samaritans immediately began CPR on both victims while Trooper Winders reentered the canal for a third time to make sure no other occupants were trapped inside the vehicle. The Good Samaritans were able to revive both victims. Soon, Palm Beach Fire Rescue arrived along with Palm Beach Trauma Hawk to assist with first aid. Both victims were in critical condition and were airlifted to Delray Medical Center. Unfortunately, the female was pronounced dead later that night. The male victim remains in serious condition at Delray Community Hospital. Trooper Winders sustained minor scrapes during the rescue attempt.
July | Trooper Todd Madely and Trooper Jack Hypes
Congratulations to Trooper Todd Madely and Trooper Jack Hypes for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for July 2007, for their efforts in rescuing a victim who had been attacked and kidnapped, and for arresting the suspect in the case.
On July 12, 2007, the Tampa Bay Regional Communications Center received a *FHP call from a motorist who observed what appeared to be a woman who was bound and gagged riding in the back seat of an SUV. The victim, who was reportedly covered in blood, was repeatedly poking her head above the seat to get the attention of drivers in passing vehicles.
Trooper Todd Madely and Trooper Jack Hypes each responded to the area in separate patrol cars while the caller stayed on the line with the duty officers. As the suspect’s SUV approached the I-4 / I-275 interchange, Trooper Madely was in position to follow the vehicle in either direction. Once it was determined that the suspect was going to travel north on I-275, Trooper Hypes was forced to stop his patrol car on the south-bound side and run across the north bound lanes, taking cover behind a cement barrier wall while Trooper Madley initiated a traffic stop on the entrance ramp. Both troopers were able to safely secure the suspect and rescue the victim who reported that she had recently been attacked and kidnapped by the suspect.
Troopers took the suspect to the Hillsborough County jail where he was booked on numerous charges. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The quick response and team work of these troopers took a dangerous criminal off Florida’s highways and rescued a kidnapped victim.
Troopers Madely and Hypes are commended for their excellent police work and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for July 2007.
August | Corporal Daniel DeWeese
Congratulations to Corporal Daniel A. DeWeese for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2007. His calm, quick response to a motorist needing roadside assistance while changing a tire prevented injuries that could have permanently disabled the motorist.
On August 25, 2007, on the way home from being on duty all night investigating a fatal traffic crash, Corporal DeWeese observed a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of the road. The driver was attempting to change a tire, and stated that he did not need assistance. Corporal DeWeese chose to stay and keep his emergency lights activated in order to warn other motorists of a disabled vehicle. Upon returning to his patrol car, Corporal DeWeese heard a cry of pain from the motorist, and realized the jack had malfunctioned allowing the vehicle to fall on the motorist’s legs. Corporal DeWeese calmly summoned emergency personnel via FHP Communication Center, and then physically lifted the vehicle enough that the motorist was able to free his legs from beneath the vehicle.
Corporal DeWeese’s quick thinking and physical abilities saved the motorist from what could have resulted in permanent disability.
Corporal Daniel A. DeWeese is hereby commended for his excellent response and actions, and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2007.
September | Trooper Kenneth Frost
Congratulations to Trooper Kenneth Frost for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2007. His heroic actions and disregard for his own personal safety while off-duty enabled the capture of two potentially violent robbery suspects
On Monday, August 27, 2007, while off duty and shopping, Trooper Frost heard a woman shouting that she had been robbed, as he was walking out of a store. He saw two suspects running from the scene and being chased by concerned citizens. Trooper Frost ran to his truck and drove around the corner of the building. He saw the suspects, stopped and exited the truck, identifed himself as a police officer and verbally ordered the suspects to stop. The suspects continued to run. Trooper Frost pursued and saw the suspects throw a purse over a wall and begin to climb over themselves. He again ordered the suspects to stop. One of the suspects was over halfway up the wall and the other was standing at the base of the wall. Trooper Frost grabbed the one standing by the wall and ordered him down on the ground. Trooper Frost and a witness held the suspect in the bed of Trooper Frost’s pickup truck until the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrived and took the first suspect into custody.
As additional officers were responding to search for the second suspect, Trooper Frost and the witness climbed the wall to see if the second suspect could be spotted – he was spotted on the far side of a pond. Trooper Frost got back into his truck and drove closer, where he and the citizen jumped out of the truck and pursued the suspect on foot. When the suspect slowed, the citizen tackled him from the rear. Additional law enforcement officers took the person into custody and both were charged with strong armed robbery and transported to the Duval County Jail. The purse was subsequently recovered by another witness and returned to the victim.
Trooper Kenneth Frost is hereby commended for his excellent alertness and actions, and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2007.
October | Trooper Andrew Litzell
Congratulations to Trooper Andrew Litzell for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2007. His quick thinking and appropriate actions likely prevented the untimely death of the motorist involved in the traffic crash.
On October 25, 2007, at approximately 6:37 P.M., Trooper Litzell was dispatched to a crash on S.R. 19 near National Forest Road #75 in southern Putnam County. As he approached the scene, he observed several vehicles from both directions braking and pulling off of the roadway. As he arrived, he noticed a vehicle off the roadway, on its left side in two to three feet of water in the drainage ditch. The driver was partially ejected through the driver’s window and pinned under the vehicle. Additionally, there appeared to be smoke or steam coming from the vehicle. The driver was bleeding and was attempting to hold his head above the water to breath. Without hesitation and regard for his own personal safety, Trooper Litzell ran into the water filled ditch and pushed on the overturned vehicle in an attempt to free the trapped driver. A passing motorist saw Trooper Litzell and came over to assist him. Together, Trooper Litzell and the passing motorist were able to move the overturned vehicle enough to free the driver and pull him to safety. Once safe, they immobilized the injured motorist’s spine to provide critical spinal protection until paramedics arrived.
Trooper Litzell’s quick thinking and appropriate actions likely prevented the untimely death of the motorist involved in the traffic crash. Trooper Andrew Litzell is hereby commended for his brave and prudent actions, and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2007.
November | Trooper Debra Teague
Congratulations to Trooper Debra K. Teague for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2007. Trooper Teague’s quick thinking and appropriate actions likely prevented the untimely death of a motorist involved in the traffic crash.
On November 21, 2007, while on routine patrol Trooper Teague encountered a serious bodily injury crash on State Road 91 in the area of the 180 mile-marker. As she approached two vehicles parked along the northbound shoulders, the motorists advised her that a car had left the roadway. Trooper Teague searched for and located the vehicle.
Trooper Teague approached the vehicle and discovered that the driver was still in the vehicle with serious injuries. The driver’s leg was nearly severed from her body and she was beginning to go into shock. Trooper Teague moved quickly, noted that the back of the driver’s leg still had a pulse, and immediately applied abrupt pressure. She administered care in excess of 30 minutes, until paramedics arrived. The driver was airlifted to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. It is believed that the driver’s leg will still be useful after extended rehabilitative therapy.
Trooper Teague’s actions made a difference regarding the final outcome of this crash with serious injuries. She is hereby commended for her brave and prudent actions, and is congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2007.
December | Trooper William Tiller
Congratulations to Trooper William B. Tiller for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2007. Trooper Tiller’s quick thinking and appropriate actions likely prevented the untimely death of young child having difficulty breathing.
On Christmas Eve, Trooper Tiller was patrolling State Road 8 (I-10). As he entered the eastbound rest area he met a vehicle which was traveling the wrong direction within the parking lot. Upon stopping the vehicle Trooper Tiller was notified of a family on the west side of the rest area with a small child in distress. He immediately responded and observed a two year old child convulsing and having difficulty breathing. Trooper Tiller quickly notified Tallahassee Regional Communications Center by radio to have Emergency Medical Services en-route and began first aid on the child. When he noticed the child’s breathing was declining he administered rescue-breathing techniques on the child until emergency medical crews arrived.
The child was flown by Gulf Flight helicopter to sacred Heart Hospital where it was determined he was suffering from a negative reaction to medication, and his respiratory system was shutting down. The child has fully recovered.
Trooper Tiller’s actions made a difference regarding the final outcome of this child’s life. He is hereby commended for his brave and prudent actions, and congratulated for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2007.