Trooper of the Month

2022 Trooper of the Month

January | Trooper Brian Clary

Congratulations to Trooper Brian Clary for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2022.

On January 19, 2022, at approximately 1:40 PM, Trooper Brian Clary and Trooper Curtis Hunter responded to the State Road 8 (Interstate-10), 209-mile marker eastbound exit. Upon arrival, Trooper Clary observed a female sitting on the concrete wall of the State Road 8 overpass which extends over State Road 10 (U.S. Highway 90). Being the first to arrive on scene, Trooper Clary began assessing the situation by talking with the female subject to determine the nature of her situation. As Trooper Clary began approaching and talking to the female subject, she stated she wanted to kill herself and began positioning herself away from Trooper Clary. At that time, Trooper Clary attempted to build a rapport with the female subject and began discussing methods for obtaining help. Trooper Hunter arrived on scene at approximately 1:45 p.m. to assist Trooper Clary. While speaking to the female, Trooper Clary was able to position himself close enough to the subject to grab her in the event she decided to jump. Trooper Clary and Trooper Hunter then grabbed the female subject and secured her. The subject was transported to the Apalachee Center by Trooper Hunter for a mental health evaluation. Trooper Clary’s decisive decision making and quick actions to allowed him to remove the subject from possibly harming herself or anyone else.

February | Trooper John Schilling

Congratulations to Trooper John Schilling for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for February 2022.

On February 7, 2022, at approximately 3:00 PM, Trooper John Schilling was completing daily reports prior to finishing his shift when he overheard the Tallahassee Regional Communications Center (TRCC) dispatch a rollover crash just north of his location on Smith Creek Highway. Trooper Schilling immediately responded to the scene of the crash. Upon arrival, Trooper Schilling observed an overturned SUV with heavy damage. Trooper Schilling attempted to contact the motorist, but received no response. Because Trooper Schilling couldn’t make entry through the doors, he broke out the rear window of the vehicle and crawled through the back of the SUV. When Trooper Schilling entered the vehicle, he observed that the motorist had severe head wounds and displayed labored breathing. Trooper Schilling repositioned the driver’s head which allowed for respiration. Trooper Schilling continued evaluating and rendering aid until Wakulla EMS arrived on scene and took over primary care. Instead of logging himself off duty at the end of his shift, Trooper Schilling took exemplary action to render aid to this motorist.

March | Trooper Toni Schuck

Congratulations to Trooper Toni Schuck for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for March 2022.

While working near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge when it was closed from normal traffic for the Skyway 10K Run, Troopers were notified of a reckless motorist traveling toward the event area. The motorist had already navigated around multiple barricades blocking the road and evaded other law enforcement attempts to stop the vehicle when Trooper Schuck made a heroic and life-saving decision to strategically position her patrol car in front of the oncoming drunk driver. The reckless motorist struck Trooper Schuck head-on causing injuries to all occupants and totaling both vehicles. It was later determined that the motorist was operating the vehicle under the influence alcoholic beverages.

Trooper Schuck placed her own life in danger and sustained injuries while protecting more than 7,000 people who were running and volunteering on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Her act of heroism is the very definition of what it means to serve and protect.

April | Troopers Ryan MacFadden, Enrique Rodriguez

Congratulations to Trooper Ryan MacFadden and Sergeant Enrique Rodriguez for being selected as the recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for April 2022.

On April 14, 2022, the Lake Worth Regional Communications Center (LWRCC) received a call from a female victim, who was being sexually battered by a rideshare driver. The victim was able to provide her location to the LWRCC, and the two Troop K troopers, with the use of the RapidSOS, were able to locate the rideshare vehicle. Trooper MacFadden conducted a traffic stop and the victim quickly exited the vehicle.

Sergeant Rodriguez remained with the victim, who showed him a video of the driver committing the sexual battery. The victim stated she believed the driver would kill her. Sergeant Rodriguez contacted Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to assist the victim with medical issues. He then contacted the FHP Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence (BCII). BCII arrived for further investigation, which revealed a gun inside the rideshare vehicle. The driver was arrested and transported to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center for processing and booking.

Trooper MacFadden’s and Sergeant Rodriguez’s quick response and professionalism assisted this victim in receiving the treatment she needed, and removed a criminal from our community.

May | Sergeant Mario Alarcon

Congratulations to Trooper Sergeant Mario Alarcon for being selected as the recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for May 2022.

On May 27, 2022, while working off-duty, Sergeant Alarcon heard on his radio that a wrong-way vehicle was travelling on Interstate 95. He left his off-duty location and was able to quickly locate the vehicle. Sergeant Alarcon attempted a traffic stop by activating emergency lights and siren. When vehicle did not stop, he successfully utilized the PIT maneuver. The vehicle was stopped, and the driver was arrested for DUI.

Due to his quick actions, the wrong-way vehicle was stopped within one minute. Sergeant Alarcon is dedicated to the goals and objectives of the Florida Highway Patrol.

June | Trooper Konner Achors

Congratulations to Trooper Konner Achors for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for June 2022.

On June 18, 2022, Trooper Achors received information that a juvenile from Virginia was traveling to Orlando in a stolen vehicle to carry out a death threat he had made against an Orlando Police Detective. The juvenile also threatened to kidnap his 13-year-old girlfriend, who was a victim in this case related to Child Sexual Abuse Material. In addition, the juvenile had a felony arrest warrant for Attempted Homicide of a Law Enforcement Officer. Trooper Achors surveilled I-95 and observed the vehicle traveling south. When Trooper Achors activated his emergency equipment, the juvenile rapidly accelerated and drove recklessly, reaching speeds of 100 MPH. As traffic began to slow, the juvenile was forced to slow his vehicle. This allowed Trooper Achors to safely perform a PIT maneuver, resulting in the juvenile’s vehicle coming to rest in the median. When given loud, verbal commands to exit the vehicle at gunpoint, the juvenile complied and was placed under arrest and transported to the Saint John’s County Jail. It was later discovered the juvenile also intended to detonate a homemade bomb in Orlando.

July | Troopers Eric Kjekstad and Frank Melillo

Congratulations to Troopers Eric Kjekstad and Frank Melillo for being selected as the recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for July 2022.

On July 21, 2022, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) requested the assistance of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) in apprehending an armed bank robbery suspect. Troopers Kjekstad and Melillo responded to a checkpoint set up by CCSO at Fort Island. The suspect vehicle approached the checkpoint and stopped. A CCSO Deputy observed an AR-15 style rifle in the vehicle. When Deputies ordered the suspect out of the vehicle, he fled, attempting to strike Trooper Melillo. Troopers Melillo and Kjekstad initiated a pursuit of the suspect. Trooper Kjekstad conducted a successful Pursuit Immobilization Technique, ending the vehicle pursuit. The suspect exited the vehicle, removed the AR-15 style rifle and fled on foot, heading toward a crowded RV Park. Fearing for the safety of innocent bystanders, Trooper Kjekstad engaged the armed suspect by discharging his agency-issued firearm, immediately stopping the threat. Troopers Kjekstad and Melillo rendered aid to the suspect until EMS arrived. The subject was transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center. Once released from the hospital, the subject was transported to the Citrus County Jail and charged with several felonies from FHP and CCSO and processed for outstanding federal warrants from the U.S. Marshals Service.

Troopers Kjekstad and Melillo performed their duties fearlessly while apprehending a dangerous armed robbery suspect.

August | Trooper Aaron Godwin

Congratulations to Trooper Aaron Godwin for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for August 2022.

On August 19, 2022, while Trooper Godwin was dining with his family, he observed a female who started showing signs of distress. He noticed that she began drooling excessively and was waving to her husband for help. As the husband attempted to help, Trooper Godwin approached the couple and identified himself as a first responder.

Trooper Godwin quickly realized that the female was no longer breathing. He calmly took control of the situation, informing the staff to call 911. He removed the female from the booth and started to perform the rear abdominal thrust until the obstruction was dislodged. Once dislodged, the female was able to breath normally. He monitored her vital signs until EMS arrived and she was medically cleared.

In addition to this life-saving action, during the month of August, Trooper Godwin conducted 210 CMV inspections, placing 65 vehicles Out-of-Service and 29 drivers Out-of-Service; weighed 77 CMV’s; issued 37 weight citations, 9 Over-Dimensional citations, 25 IFTA/IRP permits, 66 UTC’s, 8 warning, 22 arrests and 98 safety penalties.

September | Corporal Jacob Moore and Trooper Matthew Kale Davis

Congratulations to Corporal Jacob Moore and Trooper Matthew Kale Davis for being selected as the recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for September 2022.

On September 29, 2022, Trooper Michael Downing was traveling on State Road 64 approaching the Peace River to assist two other troopers on a call of people in the water. The bridge over the water had collapsed due to the massive amount of water flowing. Unaware that the bridge had collapsed, Trooper Downing’s patrol car was swept away by the swift waters. The patrol car floated down river for a distance and Trooper Downing was able to escape from the open car window and grab onto a tree. The swift current prevented Trooper Downing from being able to swim back to shore. Trooper Colby Bethea was able to locate Trooper Downing and relay to responding units the exact location of Trooper Downing. Corporal Jacob Moore, Trooper Kale Davis, Trooper Dwayne Davis, Trooper Colby Bethea, Trooper Carlos Lopez, Lieutenant Daniel Wagner and Chief John Gourley all arrived to assist Trooper Downing. Trooper Davis and Corporal Moore unselfishly entered the water, secured with a rope and tow straps. Corporal Moore was able to fight the current until he reached Trooper Downing. Trooper Downing was secured, and the assisting members were able to pull everyone back to the riverbank.

Corporal Moore and Trooper Davis are to be commended for their selfless actions in saving Trooper Downing. Their actions reflect the highest standards of the Florida Highway Patrol and demonstrates the epitome of what it means to serve and protect.

October | Trooper Christopher Karpinski and Trooper Konner Achors

Congratulations to Trooper Christopher Karpinski and Trooper Konner Achors for being selected as the recipients for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for October 2022.

On October 3, 2022, while on duty near the Peace River during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Trooper Christopher Karpinski and Trooper Konner Achors heard cries for help and observed a small capsized boat with two adults and a child in the river attempting to hold on to the boat. The child was continuously being pushed under water by the fast-moving current. Trooper Karpinski advised the Desoto County Sheriff’s Office and requested assistance. While both troopers ran toward the river, a Florida Power & Light (FPL) bucket truck stopped to assist. The troopers jumped on the FPL truck and were escorted through the washout and standing water. They then left the truck and flagged down a passing boat and, as they were walking through knee-high water toward the boat, they walked into a washout spot that was not visible due to the currents and were instantly in deep water. They swam to the boat and, with the assistance of a national guardsman and an FPL airboat, assisted in the rescue of the two adults and one child. All three subjects were removed from the river to dry land and were medically assessed by Desoto Fire Recue. All were cleared and returned to their families.

Trooper Karpinski and Trooper Achors are to be commended for their selfless actions in saving three lives. Their actions reflect the highest standards of the Florida Highway Patrol and demonstrates the epitome of what it means to serve and protect.

November | Sergeant Loren Slick

Congratulations to Trooper Christopher Karpinski for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for November 2022.

On November 24, 2022, Sergeant Slick heard a call on his Monroe County Sheriff’s Office handheld radio regarding a crash, a vehicle in the water with entrapment. He responded to the scene and found a vehicle on its driver’s side, in approximately 2-3 feet of water. The driver had self-extricated. Two people remained trapped in the vehicle. Sergeant Slick advised dispatch, then entered the water to assist. He instructed the rear passenger to look away, broke the rear window and assisted the rear passenger to safety. Sergeant Slick then entered the vehicle with the 79-year-old female front-seat passenger who was still secured by her seatbelt. The passenger complained of positional discomfort, so Sergeant Slick placed himself partially below her to prevent injury, then cut the seatbelt, releasing her.

The passenger informed Sergeant Slick that she was mobility impaired and could not support her own weight. Sergeant Slick had two Monroe County deputies secure the vehicle to prevent it from completely overturning. Sergeant Slick then positioned the passenger to rest her head on his arms, keeping her above water. Sergeant Slick comforted the elderly passenger, keeping her calm. Fire rescue passed Sergeant Slick bolt cutters, allowing him to remove a headrest which was obstructing her rescue. Then, with the guidance of fire rescue, Sergeant Slick moved her to the area of the sunroof. Fire rescue passed a backboard through the broken sunroof and together, they removed the passenger from the vehicle. The passenger was transported to Mariner’s Hospital with minor injuries.

Sergeant Slick did not hesitate to jump into the water and render assistance to these victims. He went above and beyond normal duties, making a difference in the lives of this family during the Thanksgiving week.

December | Trooper Jaqueline Olivas

Congratulations to Trooper Jaqueline Olivas for being selected as the recipient for the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for December 2022.

Trooper Olivas responded to a call on State Road 836 just east of Northwest 27th Avenue regarding a young lady who had jumped from a moving vehicle.  The victim stated she jumped from the vehicle because her boyfriend/pimp was beating her, threatening to kill her and her family, and she was afraid for her life. Trooper Olivas did a remarkable job in gathering the needed information to move this case forward. She obtained witness, subject, and victim information, and Miami Dade Fire Rescue details.  After further investigation, Trooper Olivas was able to obtain information from the Florida City Police Department that had earlier responded to the victim’s hotel for a domestic disturbance call.  Trooper Olivas gathered all initial statements and took photographs of the victim’s injuries.

Trooper Olivas was commended by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit for obtaining essential information on and off scene.

Due to Trooper Olivas’ thorough work, members of the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, and local authorities in Maryland, were able to apprehend and arrest the subject.

Trooper Olivas’s level of commitment demonstrates her pursuit to deliver excellent service for the State of Florida. Her actions reflect the highest standards of the Florida Highway Patrol and demonstrates the epitome of what it means to serve and protect.