Trooper of the Month

2013 Trooper of the Month

January | Trooper Gualberto Morales

Congratulations to Trooper Gualberto Morales for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2013.

On Monday, January 21, 2013 Morales was dispatched to reports of Beacon/Strobe activation. As Morales arrived on the scene, he received information that a vehicle had exited the roadway and entered the water. After requesting rescue divers, Morales entered the water and attempted to rescue the trapped occupants.

With the water pressure working against him, Morales made several attempts to open the car doors and shatter the windows to free the trapped motorists. Morales continued to try and save the occupants until the dive team arrived approximately sixteen minutes later. Although his attempts were unsuccessful, Morales is commended for his repetitive heroic efforts.


March | Corporal Gary Dunick

Congratulations to Corporal Gary for Dunick being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2013.

On Tuesday, March 5, 2013 Dunick was traveling on US-1 when he observed a vehicle matching the description of one wanted in connection with an Amber Alert. Dunick ran the tag and it came back as the vehicle from the BOLO. After stopping the vehicle, all three children were located in the vehicle and appeared to be in good health. The children were taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services and transported to Key West.

Dunick is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the citizens of the State of Florida.


April | Trooper Alina Pinto

Congratulations to Trooper Alina Pinto for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2013.

On Monday, April 8, 2013 while conducting a traffic crash investigation, Pinto was informed that a vehicle was on fire ahead of her location. Pinto immediately responded and upon arrival, she rushed to the vehicle to check for passengers. When Pinto opened the front door, flames erupted from inside and underneath the vehicle. Pinto was able to move out of the way in time to avoid any injuries. After the flare up, Pinto continued to search the vehicle for passengers. It was determined that all passengers were safely on the shoulder of the road.

Pinto is commended for her actions during this incident and the way she demonstrated commitment to the citizens of the State of Florida.


May | Trooper Raymond Eldridge

Congratulations to Trooper Raymond Eldridge for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2013.

On Wednesday, May 22, while off-duty, as Eldridge exited from Interstate 4 onto US-27, he noticed a vehicle stopped on the ramp and a female lying on the ground beside the vehicle. After stopping and offering his assistance, the female stated that she was not feeling well and thought she may be having a heart attack. Unable to make contact with 911, Eldridge contacted the TBRCC and requested an ambulance to respond to the scene.

Eldridge remained at the scene comforting the female and her daughter until Trooper Allen Jones and Polk County Fire and Rescue could arrive. Eldridge is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


June | Trooper Santos Lopez

Congratulations to Trooper Santos Lopez for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2013.

On Friday, June 28, 2013, Lopez was dispatched to the area of mile post 222 for a possible hitchhiker. After searching the area with no success, Lopez responded to the Canoe Creek Service Plaza to look for the subject. Upon entering the service plaza, Lopez asked the clerk if she had seen a suspicious male in the area. The clerk stated that there was a male that had just gone out the side door as Lopez entered the store. Lopez exited the store and observed the subject. The subject responded to Lopez by turning and taking an aggressive offensive stance. The male reached into the rear lower back area of his shirt and was disobeying the demands to stop from Lopez. A witness yelled that the subject had a gun. Lopez drew his weapon and the subject ran behind the store. A witness advised Lopez that the subject had thrown the weapon over the wall behind the store. Lopez recovered the weapon and then proceeded to locate the subject again. The convenience store clerk informed Lopez that the subject had entered the restroom area. Lopez evacuated the store and attempted to call the subject out of the rest room. The subject exited the restroom and was arrested without incident.

It was determined that the subject was wanted and had two active warrants out of the state of Missouri. Lopez is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


July | Trooper Justin Davis

Congratulations to Trooper Justin Davis for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for July 2013.

On Wednesday, July 8, 2013, Davis received a call from the Tallahassee Regional Communications

Center in reference to a double homicide suspect traveling eastbound on 1-10 in a red Dodge Charger.

Davis, along with Leon County Deputies, initiated a felony traffic stop of the suspect. The suspect fired shots from his vehicle and Davis quickly returned fire. Although the suspect ultimately took his own life during the traffic stop, Davis’ quick actions and attention to duty prevented more lives from being placed in danger.

Davis is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


August | Trooper Carlos Garcia

Congratulations to Trooper Carlos Garcia for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2013.

On Saturday, August 10, 2013, Garcia responded to a three-vehicle hit and run crash with injuries. Upon arriving at the scene, Garcia heard screams coming from a vehicle that had rolled over. Without hesitation, Garcia entered the vehicle and provided first aid to the driver and passenger until help could arrive.

Unfortunately, the driver did not survive the crash and expired on the scene. However, Garcia’s actions saved the life of the passenger and he was thankful to Garcia and expressed his sincerity during the next of kin notification.

Garcia is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


September | Trooper Dennis Rich

Congratulations to Trooper Dennis Rich for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2013.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, Rich was investigating a crash in the eastbound lanes of I-4, a motorist stopped in the median to get his assistance. The driver of the vehicle and his wife were on their way from Brandon to St. Joseph’s Hospital for the delivery of their new baby. Realizing that the birth was imminent, Rich immediately responded and moments later helped deliver a healthy baby girl. Rich immediately notified TBRCC and requested Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to respond. Upon their arrival, mother and baby were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital for observation and treatment.

As a result of Rich’s quick actions, the baby arrived healthy and without any complications. Rich is commended for your actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


October | Trooper Simon Castro

Congratulations to Trooper Simon Castro for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2013.

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, Castro was investigating a crash northbound on SR826 when one of the drivers began to feel ill and complained of having strong chest pains, difficulty breathing and the loss of feeling in his hands and legs. Castro notified MRCC about his situation and requested assistance from the Miami Dade Fire Rescue. The driver began to have a seizure, followed by loss of consciousness and eventually stopped breathing. Castro opened the driver’s airway and checked for a pulse and discovered that he did not have one. Castro immediately began CPR, and as a result, the driver regained his ability to breath; however, a short time later he suffered another seizure. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived on the scene taking over the medical care and transported him to Metropolitan Hospital where he was stabilized by medical personnel.

Without Castro’s quick response and decisive action, there could have been grave consequences. Castro is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


November | Trooper Billy Herrera  

Congratulations to Trooper Billy Herrera for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2013.

On Friday, November 1, 2013, Herrera was at home, off duty, when a neighbor came knocking on his door screaming and shouting for help. Herrera opened the door and observed his neighbor carrying her grandson, who was unresponsive and not breathing. Herrera took the grandson, placed him on the floor and immediately started CPR. Meanwhile, the mother of the child was on the phone with 911. After performing CPR the child started to release fluid from his mouth and then had a seizure. Once the seizure finished, Herrera started CPR again until the child became responsive and opened his eyes and started to breathe. Herrera stayed with the child holding him until Fire Rescue arrived. The child was transported to Kendall Regional Hospital and was later released and is doing well.

As a result of Herrera’s quick actions, the child recovered without any complications. Herrera is commended for his actions during this incident and the way he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


December | Trooper Lawrence Litzell

Congratulations to Trooper Lawrence Litzell for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2013.

On Saturday, December 28, 2013, Litzell attempted to stop a speeding vehicle. The driver refused to stop and subsequently fled northbound, at which time, Litzell disengaged your emergency equipment and terminated the pursuit. Within minutes, Litzell spotted the vehicle and observed the driver and passenger exit the vehicle and flee on foot. Litzell followed the driver for a short distance before he exited the vehicle and pursued the suspect on foot. As he overtook and physically engaged the fleeing suspect, Litzell was shot in the face. In a fight for his own survival, Litzell drew his handgun and returned fire, striking and killing the suspect.

Although exposed to extreme aggression and imminent danger, Litzell performed his law

enforcement duties in an exemplary manner and is commended for his bravery and courage.