State’s highest public safety award honors officers who bravely risk their own lives to protect their fellow Missourians
JEFFERSON CITY – In a ceremony today at the State Capitol, Gov. Jay Nixon awarded the Missouri Medal of Valor to nine public safety officers from across the state for their courageous and exceptional efforts to save lives and protect the public in 2014. The officers who responded to the deadly threats represent Missouri police and EMS and fire departments, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Family members and the officers’ colleagues were on hand for the presentation of Missouri’s highest public safety award during a ceremony in the Governor’s office in the Capitol. Gov. Nixon was joined at the ceremony by Department of Public Safety Director Lane Roberts and Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Bret Johnson. The newest Medal of Valor recipients are:
Anthony K. Davis of the Manchester Police Department – On Jan. 3, 2014, Officer Davis was dispatched to a fire in a three-story apartment building. He and another Manchester officer were first to arrive and found several residents running from the building as thick black smoke poured out, flames topping the roof. With the fire service not yet on the scene, Officer Davis and his fellow Manchester officer entered the building to alert the remaining residents to the need to evacuate. As Officer Davis assisted a woman out the front door, he heard a man’s voice calling for help. The victim was trapped on the third floor.
The thick, choking smoke forced Davis to turn back before he could get to the top of the stairs. With time running short, Davis made a second attempt to reach the trapped victim, this time by crawling. Staying low, beneath the densest smoke, Davis followed the man’s cries for help. Reaching the victim, Davis grabbed him and led him out of the apartment. Crawling together, they made it through the hallway and down the stairs. Upon exiting, Officer Davis brought the victim to fire department medics for treatment.
Davis then re-entered the building and assisted another man out of the burning building. Only then did Davis, overcome by smoke, seek medical assistance. He was treated at a hospital and released that evening.
Richard L. Ayers of the Missouri State Highway Patrol – Late on the night of April 27, 2014, Trooper (now Corporal) Ayers received word that a motorist was clinging for his life along flooded Clarks Creek, near Highway 34 in Wayne County. The man’s vehicle had been swept off a low water bridge and into the creek. The driver had been swept about 100 yards downstream and was clinging to a tree in the swift flood water with a leg injury. Trooper Ayers and a local police officer got into a volunteer firefighter’s boat on the other side of the creek in a rescue attempt. In the turbulent water the small boat capsized, tossing Trooper Ayers underneath the boat. Ayers, the firefighter and local police officer all made it to the shore. Trooper Ayers then made his way down the bank, got to the victim and was able to pull him from the tree safely to shore. The victim’s body temperature had dropped and he was shaking uncontrollably. Trooper Ayers gave the victim his life vest to help raise his core body temperature. Eventually, another rescue boat transported Ayers and the victim to assistance on the other side of the creek. The victim was transported to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia and his leg injury.
Nathan F. Box of the Missouri Department of Corrections – On May 30, 2014, at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, an offender attacked a corrections officer with an 8-inch-long steel improvised weapon. The offender had stabbed the officer multiple times, including in the jaw, back of the head and left torso when Corrections Officer Box came to the officer’s aid. He first deployed pepper spray at the attacker, but it had no effect.
Because corrections officers do not carry guns, Tasers or other weapons, Officer Box had to physically engage the attacker, attempting to pull him away from the injured officer. The attacker remained violent and began attacking Officer Box. In subduing the attacker to protect his wounded colleague, Officer Box suffered a stab wound and a fractured jaw. Despite his injuries, Officer Box was able to subdue the attacker and recover the improvised weapon. The wounded officer who was originally attacked was treated at a hospital and released. Officer Box was also treated, including requiring surgery on his jaw.
Michael Anthony Maupin and John D. (Jade) Wright of the Missouri Department of Conservation – On Sept. 9, 2014, over nine inches of rain swept across northwest Missouri in a matter of hours, leading to widespread flash flooding, including along Squaw Creek in Holt County. A school bus with only the bus driver onboard was swept off Highway N, becoming lodged against a fence. With the swift water rising rapidly, a Department of Conservation boat was launched into a flooded ditch. Agent Wright maneuvered the boat through the roiling water with Agent Maupin and a Missouri State Highway Patrol sergeant also aboard.
Upon approaching the precariously positioned bus, Agent Wright used all his skill to hold it in position so Agent Maupin and the patrol sergeant could get close to the door to the bus. They had to fight the rushing water to open the bus door. They threw the driver a life vest.
Then, with the boat positioned close to the door, Agent Maupin was able to reach the driver and pull her safely into the boat. Once back on land, EMS personnel tended to the bus driver.
The flash flooding grew worse and shortly before midnight, in a matter of minutes, over three feet of water rushed across a one-half mile stretch of Interstate 29 near Mound City. Four vehicles were swept off the interstate, trapping seven motorists. Agents Wright and Maupin improvised and used a MoDOT front end loader to reach a total of six trapped motorists, whose vehicles had been swept down an embankment. Riding in the front end loader’s bucket with life jackets and rescue equipment, they, along with a Highway Patrol sergeant, maneuvered through the swirling water and loaded the victims from their flooded vehicles into the bucket, and then safely back to land, in two separate trips.
Eric E. Abbott of the Missouri Department of Conservation – When the flash flooding inundated a one-half mile stretch of Interstate 29 near Mound City, sweeping four vehicles off the interstate, Conservation Agent Abbott had been first on the scene. He immediately shut down I-29. One of the four vehicles that were swept off the highway came to rest in the depressed highway median. The vehicle was entirely submerged, with only the luggage rack above the surface of the water. The driver was clinging for his life to the luggage rack. The rushing water was too turbulent to attempt a boat rescue. Agent Abbott grabbed rescue equipment and climbed onto the front of a MoDOT road grader, which was then driven into the swift water to the desperate motorist. Surrounded by swirling water, Agent Abbott threw the man a rescue rope and instructed him on how to secure it. On the count of three, the victim jumped toward the road grader into the roiling water. Agent Abbott braced himself on the grader and quickly pulled the victim to safety.
Timothy J. Dorsey, David P. Klump and Daniel R. Roderick of the West County EMS and Fire Protection District – On Nov. 24, 2014 a man killed his mother, then shot a University City Police officer. On the night of Nov. 25, with the gunman barricaded in a Vinita Park residence, Deputy Chief-Paramedic Dorsey, Paramedic-Firefighter Klump and Paramedic-Firefighter Roderick responded to the highly dangerous scene to serve as unarmed tactical paramedics assisting a Federal Bureau of Investigation Tactical Team. After seven hours of attempted communication with the gunman and reconnaissance, the tactical team entered the house. Within minutes, there were shouts for medics. As gunfire was exchanged with the gunman and the house became engulfed in flames, Dorsey, Klump and Roderick responded into the hot zone. An F.B.I. agent who had been shot was brought out of the house and Dorsey, Klump and Roderick, outfitted in protective tactical gear, including body armor and tactical helmets, administered emergency lifesaving care for a gunshot wound to the left chest and shoulder region.
As smoke poured from the burning building, a second F.B.I. agent who was shot in the leg was brought out to the front lawn of the house. Amidst the battlefield-type conditions, he also received emergency lifesaving care.
Once the first agent was moved out of the danger zone, he received care on scene in an ambulance from Dorsey and Klump, who continued administering care while transporting him to a trauma center. Paramedic-Firefighter Roderick treated the other wounded agent in a second ambulance and continued care en route to a trauma center. Both F.B.I. agents recovered from their injuries.
“There is no nobler calling than providing for the safety and well-being of one’s neighbors,” Gov. Nixon said. “These officers embody commitment to duty, decisive action, and selfless courage. It is a privilege to bestow upon them the state’s highest honor for a public safety officer on behalf of the people of Missouri.”
About the Medal of Valor
The Medal of Valor was first awarded in 2008 and is bestowed annually based on recommendations submitted by the Medal of Valor Review Board. Recipients must serve a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer or emergency personnel. The nominating form states the Medal of Valor is awarded "to a public safety officer who has exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her own personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life."
Nominations are now open for acts performed during 2015 and must be received by March 31, 2016. The nominating form is available on the Missouri Department of Public Safety Web site at http://www.dps.mo.gov/documents/MedalofValorForm.pdf.
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