On Friday, the South Carolina Highway Patrol honored their own.
Troop One Trooper of the year and Overall Trooper of the Year for the State: Lance Corporal Salvatore Cirencione
On November 16, 2013 at approximately 11:05 p.m., L/Cpl. Salvatore Cirencione notified SCHP Telecommunications that he was on the scene of a mobile home fire on Goff Court in the Dixiana area of Lexington County.
Upon arriving on-scene, he was approached by a male who said his girlfriend was still inside the mobile home. L/Cpl. Cirencione noticed that all of the windows in the mobile home were shattered and he could see visible flames coming from inside. Neither the front door nor the back door was accessible. L/Cpl.
Cirencione retrieved a halogen tool from his trunk, returned to the back door, and was attempting to open it by force just as the fire department arrived. One of the firemen saw L/Cpl. Cirencione attempting to open the back door and immediately began to assist him while other firemen prepared to fight the fire. Once the door was opened, L/Cpl.
Cirencione and the fireman pulled the woman to safety. The woman was not breathing and her arms, back, and hair were on fire. L/Cpl. Cirencione then assisted the fireman in performing chest compressions until the woman resumed breathing and the paramedics arrived on the scene.
Fire personnel that were on the scene stated that had it not been for L/Cpl. Cirencione's actions, the woman would have died before she could have been rescued from the home.
L/Cpl. Cirecione's willingness to put himself in harm's way is the definition of valor and selfless service.
Troop Two Trooper of the Year: Lance Corporal James C. Ashley
Lance Corporal Ashley became acquainted with law enforcement and the South Carolina Highway Patrol after witnessing first-hand the continuing effects of drinking and driving can have on families and friends.
In December 2003, his sister-in-law was killed by a drunk driver in Abbeville County. Because of this tragic incident, he speaks to students at local high schools regularly about the dangers of speeding, impaired driving and the importance of wearing seatbelts. He is dedicated to his role as a State Trooper and has a mission of preventing other families from experiencing the tragedy of losing a loved one on the roads of this state.
L/Cpl. Ashley is consistent in performing his duties within Greenwood and Abbeville Counties. He has a good working relationship with officers from the other law enforcement agencies within his assigned counties.
An example of L/Cpl. Ashley's dedication to duty occurred June 23, 2013, at the scene of a collision on SC 420 in Greenwood County involving serious injuries. The driver of the 1988 Ford pick-up was ejected from his vehicle. In proximity of this collision were other collisions that delayed the arrival of the emergency personnel. He immediately began crowd control attempting to prevent any further complications.
L/Cpl. Ashley, along with a member of the Fire Department, performed CPR and chest compressions until EMS arrived.
A member of the fire department stated that he was "very grateful for L/Cpl. Ashley's help on that day. Even though he had his own job to do, he did not hesitate to help in any way he could and that L/Cpl. Ashley went beyond his duties to help save another' life."
Troop Three Trooper of the Year: Senior Trooper Luke D. Perry
On December 18, 2013 at 11:40 p.m., L/Cpl. J.L. Griffith initiated a pursuit on a vehicle for speeding. The pursuit continued on various roadways where S/Tpr. L.D. Perry was able to join as the secondary pursuit vehicle and eventually became the primary pursuit officer.
The pursuit traveled onto Bruce Road where the violator attempted to pass a tractor trailer and in doing so struck another vehicle head-on. The violator's vehicle then burst into flames with both vehicles resting a few feet from one another.
S/Tpr. Perry called for aid and ran to one of the vehicles where he was able to free the female driver who sustained injuries to her knees and legs. Her one year old child was properly restrained in a child safety seat and did not suffer any visible injuries and was also freed. S/Tpr. Perry was then able to get them out of the roadway to a place of safety.
L/Cpl. Griffith was able to help free the violator from the vehicle and placed him under arrest for Felony DUI and Felony Failure to Stop for Blue Lights. As other patrol units arrived, they were able to minimize the fire with fire extinguishers.
Because of S/Tpr. Perry's ability to remain calm during this stressful situation, he was able to save the lives of all the people trapped in the engulfed vehicles.
Troop Four Trooper of the Year: Senior Trooper Anthony S. Darby
S/Tpr. Darby joined the South Carolina Highway Patrol after previously serving with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Chester County Sheriff's Department. Being a member of the South Carolina Highway Patrol was a lifelong dream. S/Tpr. Darby has served the citizens of Chester and Fairfield Counties well and goes to great lengths to foster relationships with other law enforcement agencies in our area.
S/Tpr. Darby performs many different job duties while maintaining a very high enforcement average. He is an instructor for patrol classes; a driving instructor; a field training officer; a Troop Four CERT Team member; and is certified as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and as a collision reconstructionist. Because of his professionalism, he was asked to be a part of one of the Department's anti-DUI commercials. While maintaining all of these certifications and giving of his time in a very unselfish manner, he has maintained one of the highest enforcement averages in Troop Four including 1,762 citations and 1,106 warnings and made 60 DUI arrests.
S/Tpr. Darby epitomizes what it is to be a State Trooper - he treats the motoring public professionally and courteously, but he puts those in jail who belong there.
Troop Five Trooper of the Year: Lance Corporal John W. Ellis
L/Cpl. J. W. Ellis stopped a vehicle on I -95 in Dillon County on August 15 around 2 a.m. This vehicle fit the description of a BOLO from the Florence County Sheriff's Department. This BOLO was in reference to an armed robbery that recently occurred on TV Road at a gas station. The vehicle and subjects that L/Cpl. Ellis stopped only somewhat matched the description of the BOLO.
After having the driver exit the vehicle, L/Cpl. Ellis briefly interviewed the driver and both men walked up to the vehicle. While maintaining officer safety, L/Cpl. Ellis had the rear passenger lower his window where he could get an unobstructed view of the rear passengers. Taking into consideration all of the conflicting information, L/Cpl. Ellis felt this was not the vehicle and decided to let them go and continue monitoring I-95 for a better fit to the BOLO.
A couple of days later -- while at home -- L/Cpl. Ellis watched on television the story about the armed robbery in Florence. When the story showed a still surveillance photo of the suspects, Ellis knew immediately that these were the individuals from the vehicle he had stopped two days before. L/Cpl.
Ellis called his supervisor who turned the information over to the Florence County Sheriff's Department. The investigators began gathering information from L/Cpl. Ellis who gave them vital information in reference to the robbery. As the investigation progressed, multiple law enforcement agencies became involved and four suspects were arrested as a result.
L/Cpl. Ellis' diligence and attention to detail helped lead to the arrest of four suspects now charged with Armed Robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and the closing of three other armed robbery cases committed by these suspects. These robberies took place throughout three different South Carolina and North Carolina counties. In addition to the closing of these cases, these suspects have also been tied to an on-going kidnapping investigation and home invasion investigation.
Troop Six Trooper of the Year: Lance Corporal Mark E. McDonald
L/Cpl. McDonald has served the citizens of South Carolina as a Trooper for six years. He is from Dorchester County and when he completed Highway Patrol Training, he was assigned to Troop Six, Post B (Colleton and Dorchester Counties) where he is currently assigned.
L/Cpl. McDonald is a Field Training Officer and has become a leader to subordinate troopers. In 2013, he demonstrated several examples of leadership, dedication, and selfless service. He is community-oriented and dedicated to his work.
L/Cpl. McDonald is a leader in drug enforcement in Post B. Throughout this year he has made numerous arrests for possession of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Methamphetamines.
L/Cpl. McDonald went above and beyond the call of duty while off duty. On September 16, 2013, he was outside working in his yard when he noticed that his neighbor was locked out and trying to gain entry to his residence through the back door. After several attempts, the neighbor accidently shattered the glass in the door. Viewing this from across the roadway, L/Cpl. McDonald noticed the man in extreme panic and running from the door into yard.
He ran towards his neighbor asking repeatedly if he was ok. The neighbor was panicked and screaming. L/Cpl. McDonald noticed that his neighbor's right arm was severely cut from the glass, and he was bleeding profusely. Others called the local EMS. L/Cpl. McDonald was able to control his neighbor and calm him to slow the blood loss. EMS, Fire, and the local police arrived on scene and rendered aid. EMS said that if he had not reacted in the time that he did, his neighbor's blood loss could have resulted in his death.
Troop Seven Trooper of the Year: Trooper First Class Steven M. Williams
Trooper First Class Williams is very conscious of highway safety and is dedicated to achieving our goals of saving lives. He is both a leader in Post B, Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, but is at the top of all enforcement categories in Troop Seven. He has an outstanding attitude towards his job and is willing to do any task given to him without hesitation.
On September 25, 2013, TFC Williams was on patrol when he responded to a call that a subject was soliciting for a ride and/or money at the rest area on I-26. While questioning the subject, TFC Williams noticed the subject was wearing soiled and bloody clothing. He recalled that there was a collision from the night before where a subject collided into the back of a Patrol car and that the subject had fled the scene and abandoned his vehicle at the rest area. Through his investigative skills and keen observation skills, the subject was arrested. The subject was indeed the violator that struck Trooper E.A. Reed's patrol car and left him injured.
Troop Eight Trooper of the Year: Corporal Bradley D. Dowis
Cpl. Brad Dowis has an excellent work ethic and is a reliable and dedicated employee. He supervises the Upstate Unit and always sets an example for his team and other troopers to emulate.
In 2013, he was named the S/Tpr. Michael J. Rao K-9 Award winner. He is also willing to assist Troop Three when events arise that are out of the ordinary from his typical job duties.
One event in particular occurred on August 12, 2013 when Cpl. Dowis observed a disabled vehicle in the number one lane of a six-lane heavily travelled area of Interstate 85 in Anderson County.
Cpl. Dowis parked his patrol vehicle a considerable distance behind and at a section of roadway where there was plenty of sight distance. He activated his blue lights to warn traveling motorists of the blocked lane and to protect himself and all parties involved attempting to assist the disabled vehicle.
While assisting the SCDOT S.H.E.P. worker in fixing the vehicle, another vehicle slammed into the back of Cpl. Dowis' patrol car, which had canine Tigger in the back, pushing it across the two open lanes and into the guardrail.
The driver of the vehicle that hit Cpl. Dowis' vehicle sustained minor injuries and luckily K-9 Tigger was not injured. Because of Cpl. Dowis' quick alertness, serious injuries were avoided and more importantly, many lives were saved.
Troop Nine Trooper of the Year: L/Cpl. Todd J. Proctor
L/Cpl. Proctor performs his duties in an exceptional manner on a daily basis. He takes an active role in all investigations while he mentors fellow troopers and MAIT members. L/Cpl. Proctor has also proved to be an excellent interviewer for MAIT.
On August 24th, 2013, L/Cpl. Proctor assisted with a complex collision in Dorchester County that involved many witnesses and multiple involved parties. The involved parties had varying statements that appeared to differ from the evidence. L/Cpl. Proctor, without being asked, conducted and coordinated nearly all of the interviews. Due to L/Cpl. Proctor's interviewing skills, he was able to determine the truth about the events that led to the collision, which resulted in a charge of Reckless Homicide and Leaving the Scene Involving Death. The interviews L/Cpl. Proctor performed were essential due to the complexity and details involved with this collision.
On July 2nd, 2013, while L/Cpl. Proctor was documenting a collision scene with other MAIT members, a local law enforcement officer requested assistance with apprehending several bank robbery suspects in a nearby wooded area. L/Cpl. Proctor immediately responded and assisted with apprehending three suspects; he remained on-scene until other law enforcement officers arrived.
These are just two of many instances where L/Cpl. Proctor has demonstrated his skills as -- not only a collision reconstructionist-- but, also a dedicated State Trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Troop Ten Trooper of the Year: Corporal James F. Jordan
Cpl. Jordan graduated from Patrol school in 1985. He was assigned to Darlington County for several years. In the mid-1990's his district captain realized what a valuable asset he was and transferred him to the Administrative Enforcement Section of what was then District Five. He retired in 2001 and was rehired to the Insurance Enforcement Unit in August 2002.
Cpl. Jordan led the state in confiscated tags and personal contacts for several years prior to his being promoted to the rank of Corporal in December 2010, which contributed to the Unit's reduction of statewide uninsured motorists from 28 percent in 2002 to 9 percent in 2013.
Cpl. Jordan is highly skilled in computer technology and has assisted his supervisors with many projects in the past. He is well-respected by his supervisors and his subordinates. His values and work ethic are beyond reproach. He is highly motivated and always puts forth 110% effort in whatever assignments he is given. He has a passionate commitment to apprehending uninsured motorists and, at the same time, shows compassion to the ones that are in need.
Troop Eleven Trooper of the Year: Corporal William T. Rhyne – CRO
Cpl. W.T. Rhyne was assigned to the CRO unit on March 17, 2009 as the Troop 3 CRO. He is now currently a CRO Corporal, supervising all CRO activities in Region 1 (Troops 1, 2, 3 and 4) and continues to handle all CRO responsibilities for Troop 3 which is the most populated Troop in the state. He manages three CROs and the dissemination of information to the media within his region. Cpl.
Rhyne is an excellent role model for new Community Relations Officers that join the Unit because of his work ethic and enthusiasm for his job. In 2013, Cpl. Rhyne conducted 107 safety presentations reaching just under 12,000 people and handled 1,238 media interviews. He is eager to take on any task that is given to him, complete it in a timely manner and his supervisors know that it will be done with pride and attention to detail.
Over the last year, he has been instrumental in managing the agency's Nixle program, which is a social media program used by CROs to release information to the media. He also maintains a great relationship with the media and leads other CROs to do the same.
In 2013, Cpl. Rhyne was asked to be the state coordinator for the high school prom talks. This involved working closely with Subway Corporation regarding the "W8 2 TXT" program and also working with Families of Highway Fatalities to have speakers at each safety presentation. Under his leadership, the Patrol conducted over 70 safety talks in high schools around the state that reached the eyes and ears of tens of thousands of students. He was also instrumental in setting up and coordinating safety presentations at Ft. Jackson Army Base. Roughly 16,000 soldiers stationed at Fort Jackson received the Patrol's safety presentation, which included FHF members and a demonstration of the rollover simulator.
Cpl. Rhyne has taken on the task of assisting with several highway dedications for fallen troopers within his region and to help guide other CROs. Families of the fallen have expressed their gratitude to Cpl. Rhyne, because their loved one was remembered by a dedication ceremony that was held to the highest of honors.
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