Trooper of the Month

2014 Trooper of the Month

January | Major Sammie Thomas, Jr.

Congratulations to Major Sammie Thomas, Jr. for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2014.

On Monday, January 20, 2014, Thomas’ neighbor knocked on his door to ask for help in locating her 2-year old child who had been missing for about 20 minutes. Thomas and an on-duty Miami-Dade County Police Officer, Officer J. Brennan, canvassed the area by the lake located near the house because it was the most vulnerable place for the child. A security guard noticed a tennis shoe in the water and called for Thomas and Officer Brennan. After taking a better look, Thomas told Officer Brennan that he saw the child, both of them jumped into the lake and swam towards the child, however, upon reaching the child Thomas noticed that he was unresponsive. Thomas and Officer Brennan retrieved the child and swam towards the shore.

At the shoreline, Thomas, Officer Brennan and another Miami-Dade Officer performed CPR on the child until EMS arrived and took over. The child was airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital for advanced medical treatment. In this effort, Thomas received a minor injury and was exposed to biohazards from the water in the lake and while performing CPR on the child.

Although Thomas’ attempts to save the child were unsuccessful, he is to be commended for his heroic efforts during this incident and he demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


February | Trooper Yudiel Santana

Congratulations to Trooper Yudiel Santana for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2014.

On Saturday, February 22, 2014, Santana responded to a crash on State Road 112 and the North Miami A venue exit ramp. Upon arrival, a witness advised Santana that the driver of the vehicle was not breathing and had no pulse. Santana got the driver out of the vehicle and began to perform CPR along with a City of Miami Beach Police Officer. The victim regained consciousness just as the City of Miami Fire Rescue unit arrived. He was transported to the Ryder Trauma Center where he has since been released.

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


March | Corporal Gene Hunt

Congratulations to Corporal Gene Hunt for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2014.

On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, Hunt received information from Trooper Sterling Safford about a possible drowning of a child in a pond off Spring Meadow Road in Gadsden County. Upon arrival, Hunt observed several Gadsden County Deputies in the pond searching for the child.

With disregard for his own safety, Hunt swam out into the water to look for the child. Hunt, along with Gadsden County Deputy Tiffany Parsons, located the child and brought him to shore. Paramedics with Gadsden County EMS who were on scene attempted to resuscitate the child but were unsuccessful.

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


April | Trooper Jeffrey A. Benoit

Congratulations to Trooper Jeffrey A. Benoit for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2014, for your actions during a single month.

On Sunday, April 20, 2014, while off-duty and on-board JetBlue Airways, an unidentified male sitting in front of Benoit began to experience a seizure. Benoit identified himself to the crew as a Florida State Trooper and a trained first responder. While holding the subject in an attempt to prevent injury to himself, he bit through his tongue. Benoit requested gloves from the flight attendant and once the subject stopped convulsing, he held a c-spine and checked the subject’s airway, breathing and circulation. The subject began to choke, and Benoit opened the subject’s mouth and opened his airway. Benoit held a c-spine until the subject regained consciousness and EMS arrived.

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


May | Trooper James Whitmore

Congratulations to Trooper James Whitmore for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2014.

On Sunday, May 18, 2014, Whitmore responded to a crash involving a tractor trailer and a passenger car. Upon arrival, Whitmore found the driver and three small children entrapped in the vehicle. Whitmore climbed onto the vehicle and forced the window down and then assisted the driver out of the vehicle. However, before Whitmore could remove the children from the car, the engine compartment caught fire. Unable to extinguish the fire, Whitmore broke the right front window to allow them to breathe. Whitmore continued to fight the fire until the Marion County Fire Rescue units arrived and were able to put out the fire and extract the children from the back seat.

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


June | Trooper Jared Bruggeman

Congratulations to Trooper Jared Bruggeman for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2014.

On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, Bruggeman responded to a traffic crash. Upon arrival, Bruggeman met with a female who had been involved in a single vehicle crash. During his investigation, Bruggeman identified the driver as a suspect in an attempted homicide and child neglect. Even though Bruggeman had only been on the road solo since May 2014, he was able to quickly identify the suspect, interview the suspect and witnesses and obtain the required information so that an arrest could be made.

During the investigation, Bruggeman found three children all under the age of five in an unattended vehicle that had been used in the attempted homicide. Bruggeman immediately provided care for the children and contacted the father so he could turn the children over to him.

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


July | Trooper William Lopez

Congratulations to Trooper William Lopez for being selected as a co-recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for July 2014.

On Wednesday, July 2, 2014, the City of Miami Police requested FHP K9 assistance in apprehending a home invasion suspect with a violent criminal history that had fled on foot from a stolen vehicle. After searching the yards of several homes, Lopez and K9 Dany located the subject hiding in a large bush. The subject failed to surrender and subsequently sustained a bite from K9 Dany. Sergeant Torres was the backup officer and successfully handcuffed the subject and handled the use of control report.

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


August | Trooper Nathan K. Stidham

Congratulations to Trooper Nathan K. Stidham for being selected as a co-recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2014.

On Sunday, August 17, 2014, the Tallahassee Regional Communications Center received a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) message for a vehicle that was occupied by four adults and a ten-month old child that had been abducted in Jacksonville.

While working State Road 8 (Interstate 10) Stidham and Trooper John Sleigher observed a vehicle matching the description and initiated a traffic stop. Stidham and Trooper Sleigher were able to verify that they had the correct vehicle and were able to remove the child safely from harm’s way. The child was taken into protective custody and returned to St. Johns County. The four suspects were arrested and transported to the Madison County jail.

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


September | Trooper Carissa R. Fields

Congratulations to Trooper Carissa R. Fields for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2014.

On Friday, September 19, 2014, while investigating a multiple vehicle hit and run crash in Sumter County, Fields responded to the address of the hit and run driver. Upon arrival, Fields found the driver and a Sumter County deputy standing in the garage area of the home. While interviewing the elderly driver, Fields noticed that the driver began to experience conditions that didn’t seem normal and she identified them as precursors to a stroke or a mini-stroke.

Fields then aborted the crash investigation and questioned the driver as to his medical history. He revealed that he had suffered a stroke earlier in the year. As Fields stayed with the driver, she asked the Sumter County deputy to summon EMS to their location. Soon, EMS arrived and discovered that the driver was in fact experiencing an Atrial Fibrillation. The driver agreed to be transported to Leesburg Hospital for further treatment.

Fields is commended for her actions during this incident and she demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


October | Trooper Danielle Poulin

Congratulations to Trooper Danielle Poulin for being selected as a co-recipient of the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2014.

On Wednesday, October 29, 2014, while Poulin and Trooper James Bregon were patrolling US Highway 19, she came upon the scene of two traffic crashes involving five vehicles. One of the drivers involved in one of the crashes was conscious, alert and checked by EMS personnel, but refused treatment. While Poulin conducted her investigation, she went to find the driver to ask him some additional questions and found him lying on the ground unconscious. EMS was requested as Poulin and Trooper Bregon began to assess the driver’s condition.

Hearing the situation over the radio, Sergeant Ada responded to her location from the second crash scene. The driver was not breathing and had no pulse. Sergeant Ada initiated CPR on the driver. Poulin immediately joined Sergeant Ada in performing CPR. Corporal Doug Guy arrived on scene and began to employ his Automatic Electronic Defibrillator and lifesaving efforts continued until EMS could arrive and take over. The driver was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital and was admitted to ICU in critical condition.

Poulin is commended for her actions during this incident and she demonstrated commitment to the residents of the State of Florida.


November | Trooper Bradford Wagner

Congratulations to Trooper Bradford Wagner for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2014.

On Thursday, November 27, 2014, while traveling northbound on the Suncoast Parkway, Wagner observed a male standing next to a vehicle frantically trying to wave for help. Upon stopping to help, Wagner observed the subject’s wife had a seatbelt wrapped around her throat and had lost consciousness. Wagner took lifesaving actions by cutting the seatbelt and rendering aid which allowed her to start breathing again. Wagner continued to provide assistance until EMS arrived.

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


December | Trooper Mark Baker

Congratulations to Trooper Mark Baker for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2014.

On Saturday, December 13, 2014, Baker conducted a traffic stop for illegal window tint. Upon contacting the driver, Baker detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. While Baker waited for backup to arrive, the passenger of the vehicle began to flee carrying a large object. Baker began to chase the suspect and he drew a weapon. Baker immediately stopped and drew his firearm while giving him commands to toss his weapon to the ground. The suspect was taken into custody and the weapon recovered.

Upon returning to the traffic stop scene, Baker was informed by a witness that the driver of the vehicle discarded an Army-type bag in the construction zone. Baker was able to locate the bag as well as conduct a search of the vehicle which revealed a handgun, currency, drugs and drug paraphernalia.

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