Trooper of the Month
2018 Trooper of the Month
January | Trooper Bryan C. Lewis, Sergeant John H. Britt, Jr., Trooper Vicente Torres-Rivera
Congratulations to Trooper Bryan C. Lewis, Sergeant John H. Britt, Jr., Trooper Vicente Torres-Rivera for being selected as co-recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2018.
On Thursday, January 11, 2018, Lewis was traveling west on US-192 in Kissimmee in Osceola County. As Lewis approached the intersection of International Drive, Lewis observed a dark colored SUV stopped on southbound International Drive at the intersection of US-192. As the SUV attempted to turn right onto westbound US-192, it immediately collided with a female cyclist. The SUV driver quickly realized she had run over a bicycle and stopped her vehicle within the intersection. The driver exited her vehicle and realized the cyclist was completely trapped underneath and unable to move due to the SUV resting on top of her.
The SUV driver re-entered her vehicle to move it from on-top of the cyclist, but Lewis stopped her and instructed her not to move her vehicle but to remain still. Lewis immediately informed Orlando Regional Communications Center of the crash and requested EMS to respond. Britt and Torres-Rivera arrived within minutes of the crash. When they arrived, Lewis was lying on the ground beneath the vehicle holding the cyclist’s hand to calm her down. Lewis noticed the cyclist was unable to breath due to her final rest position and the weight of the vehicle squarely on top of her. Britt and Trooper Torres-Rivera retrieved two vehicle jacks and placed them under the vehicle to raise the vehicle’s left side tires approximately four inches above the roadway. This allowed the cyclist to breath but was still not enough room to remove the cyclist from under the vehicle.
Once Osceola EMS arrived Lewis, Britt and Torres-Rivera reassured the cyclist that everything was being done to safely remove her from under the vehicle. After the vehicle was raised from the cyclist, she was removed and transported to Osceola Regional Medical Center as a trauma alert. Lewis made sure to check on her recovery during her stay in the hospital.
Due to the heroic actions of Lewis, Britt and Torres-Rivera the cyclist is expected to make a full recovery. Their quick reactions and calm resolve were in no doubt instrumental in saving the cyclist’s life. Their actions exemplify their commitment to making a Safer Florida a daily part of their duties as Florida State Troopers.
February | Sergeant Richard Davis, Jr.
Congratulations to Sergeant Richard Davis, Jr., for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2018.
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, Davis observed what appeared to be a disabled commercial motor vehicle at the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 228. As Davis turned around to set up behind the disabled commercial motor vehicle, another Trooper arrived and stated he had just clocked the vehicle exceeding the speed limit and believed the commercial motor vehicle had struck another vehicle. The struck vehicle was no longer at the scene, leading the Trooper to believe it had fled the scene after the impact. Based on the evidence remaining in the roadway, Davis began to investigate the crash further by searching the wood line on both shoulders.
Davis found the victim, an elderly man with serious head injuries, in his vehicle approximately 100 yards away from the area of impact, lodged in the trees. The victim was disoriented and entrapped. As the vehicle began to catch fire, Davis quickly extricated the victim from the vehicle and then utilized his department issued fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire.
Had it not been for Davis’ investigative skills that led to the discovery of the crash victim, he would have remained entrapped and undetected and the crash would have most likely resulted in a fatality due to the victim’s inability to remove himself from the burning vehicle. Davis’ attention to detail, dedication to duty, and quick thinking surely saved the victim’s life that day.
March | Trooper Roberto A. Ortiz
Congratulations to Trooper Roberto A. Ortiz for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2018.
On Friday, March 30, 2018, Ortiz was patrolling Interstate 4 westbound near the 101 Mile Marker, when he observed two vehicles and a Road Ranger’s service truck parked on the grass shoulder near a retention pond. Ortiz stopped to make sure everything was okay and heard a lady’s voice through the woods close to the retention pond. As Ortiz got closer, he heard the Road Ranger alerting a dispatcher to the situation and that a blue pick-up truck was rapidly sinking in the retention pond. There were already two people in the water trying to help the victim get out of the pick-up truck, but the driver was unresponsive. Ortiz notified the Orlando Regional Communications Center of the situation and then realized the truck was sinking even faster.
Ortiz entered the retention pond and climbed onto the truck’s hood and saw that water had begun to cover the victim’s legs. Ortiz shattered the passenger side window to rescue the victim from the sinking truck. While pulling the victim free, his feet became lodged in the steering wheel and he began to submerge with the truck. With no regard to his personal safety, Ortiz swam under the water back into the cab of the truck where he was able to completely dislodge his feet, so he could be pulled to safety. The victim was taken immediately by ambulance to the local hospital for treatment and it is believed that the victim suffered a medical issue at the time of the incident.
Ortiz’s quick actions and calm resolve were instrumental in saving the victim from drowning
after suffering a medical emergency while driving. Ortiz’s willingness to set aside his personal safety to save a life from imminent death was not only instrumental in saving the victim’s life that day, it also exemplifies his commitment to making a Safer Florida part of his fundamental duties as a Florida State Trooper.
April | Trooper Patrick Hildebrandt
Congratulations to Trooper Patrick Hildebrandt for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2018.
While Hildebrandt was on duty traveling eastbound over the Dunlawton Bridge, he noticed a subject laying on the paved shoulder of the roadway at the apex of the bridge. Hildebrandt stopped to make contact with the subject, and he stood up and abruptly moved south to the metal rail of the bridge. The subject quickly stepped up on the rail to jump off. With disregard for his own safety, Hildebrandt interceded and grabbed the subject, preventing him from jumping off the bridge. Soon thereafter, the Port Orange Police Department arrived on scene and assisted Hildebrandt with taking the subject into custody.
If it had not been for the disregard Hildebrandt had for his own safety and the quick decisive actions he took, the subject could have had serious bodily injuries or perished. Hildebrandt’s attention to detail, dedication to duty, and quick thinking surely saved the subject’s life that day.
May | Trooper Edgardo C. Torres
Congratulations to Trooper Edgardo C. Torres for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2018.
On Sunday, May 27, 2018, while Torres was on duty, he received a call for what he thought was a pedestrian walking on the overpass at the west end of the Polk Parkway (SR 70) at Interstate 4. Once Torres arrived, he realized that the subject was contemplating suicide and had positioned himself to jump from the overpass onto I-4. As the two of them were talking, back-up troopers arrived on the scene to assist and the subject produced a knife. Torres was able to keep a calm demeanor and continue to talk to the subject in an effort to calm him down and defuse what had become an extremely volatile situation. Torres and another trooper were able to pull the subject from the wall and continue to talk to him to keep him calm. The subject was then Baker Acted for a mental evaluation.
Torres’ handling of the situation was heroic. Torres was faced with a suicidal subject and used effective verbal communication to calm the situation down. Torres attentiveness to detail, dedication to duty and quick thinking surely saved the subject’s life that day.
June | Sergeant James S. Gaskins
Congratulations to Sergeant James S. Gaskins for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2018.
On Saturday, June 23, 2018, while outside of his home, Gaskins noticed his neighbor was lying on the ground and unresponsive. Gaskins immediately ran to his neighbor and realized the man had suffered an extreme medical episode and had shallow and labored breathing, a faint pulse and he was completely unresponsive. Gaskins fiancée called 911 for help, but before they could arrive his neighbor’s pulse stopped completely. Gaskins immediately began CPR and continued until Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue was able to arrive. Fire Rescue utilized their defibrillator on him, and he regained a weak pulse. Gaskins neighbor was then transported to Helen Ellis Florida Hospital where he succumbed to his medical emergency. Gaskins was also able to provide aid to the neighbor’s family in their time of need.
Although Gaskins neighbor succumbed to his injuries, his efforts gave him a chance at survival. Gaskins’ actions exemplify what it is to be a Florida State Trooper. Gaskins is commended for a job well done and his attention to his duties and responsibilities as a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper.
July | Trooper Andrew Schmidt, Trooper Anthony Dobosiewicz
Congratulations to Trooper Andrew Schmidt and Trooper Anthony Dobosiewicz for being selected as co-recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Troopers of the Month for July 2018.
On Saturday, July 21, 2018, Schmidt and Dobosiewicz conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 75 at the 309-mile marker in Sumter County for unlawful speed. During Dobosiewicz’s interactions with the driver and right front passenger, Dobosiewicz became suspicious of a possible human trafficking case involving the two passengers in the back seat. Dobosiewicz contacted the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Border Patrol to advise them or the situation. The U.S. Border Patrol dispatched two agents to assist Dobosiewicz with his investigation.
Dobosiewicz’s investigation led to the arrest of the two suspects for Kidnapping/Human Trafficking and weapon-related charges. The U.S. Border Patrol Agents followed Dobosiewicz to the Sumter County jail and took custody of the arrestees and the two Mexican Nationals that were the victims of human trafficking. They also took over all evidence and transported the individuals to their Tampa facility. A federal judge signed the federal indictment on the two suspects for Armed Human Trafficking.
Their actions exemplify what it is to be Florida State Troopers. Schmidt and Dobosiewicz are commended for a job well done and their attention to their duties and responsibilities as Florida Highway Patrol Troopers.
August | Trooper Wilker D. Cavalcante Amaral
Congratulations to Trooper Wilker D. Cavalcante Amaral for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2018.
On Monday, August 2, 2018, Amaral responded to a report of a suspicious person on the top of the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, in Manatee County. Upon Amaral’s arrival, the subject exited her vehicle and walked toward the edge of the bridge. As Amaral got closer to her she moved closer to the edge and placed her hands on the bridge edge. As Amaral kept an open dialogue with her, she repositioned herself to sitting on the wall edge. The subject was not willing to talk to Amaral, but he didn’t give up. Amaral asked her to take a deep breath and talk to him, at which point she covered her face with her hands, giving him the opportunity to pull her to safety. As Amaral went to grab her she tensed up and placed her hands on his elbows and attempted to lean backwards over the edge. Amaral was able to gain control of the subject and pull her from the wall onto the ground. Amaral reassured her that everything was okay, and she was transported to a mental health facility to receive care.
Amaral’s actions exemplify what it is to be a Florida State Trooper. Amaral’s selflessness and immediate actions saved a woman’s life and he is commended for his life saving efforts.
September | Trooper Danny Diaz
Congratulations to Trooper Danny Diaz for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2018.
On Sunday, September 30, 2018, Diaz responded to call of a vehicle that was traveling north on Interstate 95 near Oakland Park Boulevard at a slow rate of speed that was repeatedly hitting the concrete barrier wall. Once Diaz arrived, he noticed the vehicle was resting against the barrier wall and the driver was slumped over the wheel. The driver was taking short breaths and his body was shaking. Diaz suspected the driver was having a drug overdose, so he took him from the vehicle and administered a short burst of NARCAN into his nostril. The driver still had short interrupted breaths, so Diaz administered a second dose of NARCAN. Once Fire and Rescue arrived on scene, they began attending to the driver and he became responsive. While at the hospital, the driver admitted to using fentanyl prior to the incident.
Diaz’s actions exemplify what it is to be a Florida State Trooper. Diaz is commended for his life saving actions and prompt response.
October | Trooper Chad Anderson
Congratulations to Trooper Chad Anderson for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2018.
On Friday, October 12, 2018, Anderson was off duty at his house when he heard a commotion outside. Anderson observed that a vehicle had struck a utility pole and another by-stander was performing CPR on a victim. Anderson immediately got in his patrol vehicle and called in the incident to the Tampa Bay Regional Communications Center and drove to the scene of the accident. Anderson used his department-issued A.E.D. and placed the pads on the victim and began performing CPR. The A.E.D. delivered a total of three life-saving shocks to the victim. The victim was transported by EMS to the local hospital.
Anderson’s actions were heroic and contributed to saving the victim’s life. Anderson’s actions also exemplify what it is to be a Florida State Trooper. Anderson is commended for his actions and prompt response.
November | Trooper Richard Verbiest
Congratulations to Trooper Richard Verbiest for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2018.
On Monday, November 5, 2018, Verbiest pulled up behind a disabled vehicle in the inside emergency lane of 1-75 southbound, near mile marker 133 in Lee County. As Verbiest was just about to exit his patrol vehicle to approach the disabled motorist, another vehicle ran off the road and struck the rear of his patrol vehicle. The impact pushed Verbiest’s patrol vehicle into the rear of the disabled vehicle in front of him, causing major damage.
Almost immediately, the sedan that struck Verbiest’s patrol vehicle, burst into flames. Despite the injuries Verbiest received to his knee, he was able to get out of his patrol vehicle and run to the burning sedan. The driver was crying for help due to the door being jammed, but Verbiest were able to pull it open and extricate the driver from the burning vehicle.
During the situation, Verbiest was able to think quickly and remove valuables from his patrol vehicle while still monitoring the injured driver.
Due to Verbiest’s heroic actions and quick thinking, despite his own injuries, he saved a life. Verbiest exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper and he is to be commended for his actions and prompt response.
December | Trooper Mithil Patel
Congratulations to Trooper Mithil Patel for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2018.
On December 3, 2018, Patel was conducting a crash investigation in I-95 in Martin County. Patel and a civilian were standing on an emergency shoulder, which was adjacent to the northbound travel lanes. While standing there a secondary crash occurred, which caused a vehicle to rotate out of control towards Patel and the civilian. At the last moment, Patel pushed the civilian out of the vehicle’s path preventing him from being hit. Patel, however, was struck by the vehicle and his body was propelled in the air. Patel received incapacitating injuries and was transported to Saint Mary’s Medical Center.
On December 7, 2018, Patel and the civilian were reunited at the annual Troop L meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. The civilian wanted to publicly thank Patel for saving his life.
Due to Patel’s heroic actions and quick thinking, despite his own injuries, he saved a life. Patel exemplifies what it is to be a Florida State Trooper and he is to be commended for his actions and prompt response.
Dave Kerner, Executive Director