BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana State Police honored a handful of heroes Thursday afternoon in its annual awards ceremony.
Among them, four men who helped rescue a mother and her children from drowning after a crash. An SUV landed upside-down in Bayou Lafourche, and the men then rushed into help.
"Somebody said there was kids and without hesitation we tried to help them. We jumped in, swam across the bayou and assisted in any way we could to help them out," said Mark Russell.
The men say they were just glad they were nearby to help.
State Police also honored several troopers for going above the call of duty in their everyday work.
The following awards were presented at the ceremony:
- Sgt. Troy Leonard (Troop C): Saved a man from choking on an obstruction in his air way by performing the Heimlich maneuver at a local restaurant on November 18, 2014.
- Sgt. Gary Smith (Troop D) and Cpl. Benjamin Randolph (Lake Charles Police Department): Their life saving efforts were able to keep a woman that had stopped breathing alive until paramedics arrived on January 27, 2015.
- TFC Blake Lemoine (Troop B): He saved a woman from drowning in the Bonnet Carre' Spillway on October 20, 2014.
- TFC Ronald Picou (Troop D): His lifesaving efforts on a crash scene saved a man that had been unresponsive for more than 8 minutes on October 17, 2014.
- TFC Eric Regan (Troop I): He risked his own life to save a kidnapped child from a burning vehicle on June 18, 2014.
- Senior Technician Eric Curlee (LSP Emergency Services Unit): He performed the Heimlich maneuver while on a traffic stop on I-10 to save an individual that he discovered wasn't breathing on June 25, 2014.
- DPS Officer Ralph Palmer (DPS Police - Crescent City Connection): He stopped a man from committing suicide on the Crescent City Connection Bridge on September 23, 2014.
- Officer Derek Canatella (New Orleans Police Department): He stopped a man from committing suicide on the Crescent City Connection Bridge on November 27, 2014.
- Mr. Hank Bradford, Mr. Mark Russell, Mr. Woodrow “Buddy” Williams Jr. and Mr. Roy Anselmi: They rescued a woman and three children from drowning in Bayou Lafourche following a vehicle crash on September 12, 2014.
- TFC Jessie Almore (Troop G): While at Troop G, TFC Almore has distinguished himself as a committed law enforcement professional while serving the public. Last year, TFC Almore issued 1938 citations, 486 of these citations were safety and child restraint violations. In addition to his regulatory efforts, TFC Almore made 28 criminal arrests and 115 DWI arrests. TFC Almore was recognized by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission as the Louisiana Trooper with the most DWI arrests in 2014.
- M/T George Shirey (LSP Bureau of Investigations-Region 3): In 2014, Master Trooper George Shirey played an integral role in the investigation known as Operation “Pit Stop”, which resulted in three Federal Title III wire intercepts. M/T Shirey was a lead investigator and DEA Task Force Case Agent for this investigation. M/T Shirey committed himself to this investigation full time, working countless hours each day.
- Officer John Kay (DPS Police - Weights and Standards Unit): Officer Kay is a DPS Mobile Weights and Standards Police Officer currently assigned to the Troop G area. Officer Kay has a total of 28 years of experience in law enforcement and mobile weights enforcement.
- Comm. Specialist 2 Alicia Pickens (LSP Troop D): Alicia Pickens has been working for LSP Troop D as a dispatcher since April 10, 2006 and is currently a Communications Specialist 2. Ms. Pickens expertise and calm demeanor on the radio has assisted Troop D during many pursuits and fugitive arrests over the last year. On May 6, 2014, Troop D received a call from the Beaumont Police Department about a Chevrolet Truck that they were pursing into Louisiana. Ms. Pickens relayed pertinent information to the patrol Supervisors and Troopers, which led to them successfully spiking and disabling the fleeing vehicle.
- Technician Supervisor John Wyles (LSP Emergency Services Unit), Senior Technician Preston Summers (LSP ESU), Criminal Investigator Shelly Hopkins (LSP ESU), SABT Cliff Bland (FBI), SABT Dave Clarke (FBI), SABT Gary Elmore (FBI), SSG Kenny Scherrer (U.S. Army 705th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company), SGT Rafael Polo (U.S. Army 705th EOD): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on August 25, 2014, when the Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Office contacted the Louisiana State Police, Emergency Services Unit in reference to the detonation of an explosive device that had occurred earlier that day. The Sheriff's Office explained that a male suspect had detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in his wife's vehicle and they were in need of the department's bomb technicians. Investigators furthered the investigation which led to the residence of the suspect. During the search of the suspect's residence, several additional IED's were located as well as “booby traps” throughout the residence. All technicians and investigators took a “hands on” approach and rendered all devices safe.
- Sgt. Joey Nations (Troop A): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations from May 19, 2014 to November 17, 2014. As a Trooper, Sgt. Nations was delegated the duties, responsibilities and authority of a State Police Sergeant. Sgt. Nations served in the capacity in the absence of a permanent Sergeant on both A and C Teams.
- TFC James Benoit (Troop I): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations in 2014. TFC Benoit's hard work led him to seize over 1 million in illegal narcotics. TFC Benoit seized 59 pounds of marijuana, 14 pounds of cocaine, 30 liters of codeine, 4 pounds of methamphetamine, and 57 pounds of synthetic marijuana. In addition to the narcotic seized, TFC Benoit recovered five stolen vehicles, 3 stolen weapons, and seized $13,250.00 dollars in US currency.
- S/T Steve Linn (LSP Bureau of Investigations Region 1), TFC Robert Goertz (LSP BOI Region 1), and TFC Rohn Bordelon (LSP BOI Region 1): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations. On August 6, 2014, Troopers Linn, Goertz, and Bordelon were working the New Orleans detail in a plain-clothes capacity at which time they were traveling on Calliope Street near Simon Bolivar Blvd in an unmarked unit. Troopers Linn, Goertz, and Bordelon approached a suspect who was having an altercation, pulled out a gun, and fired two shots at the victim at close range. TFC Goertz immediately called for backup, notified NOPD dispatch of the incident, and gave a detailed physical description of the suspect and his direction of flight. Troopers and NOPD K-9 Units then began their track of the suspect from the location relayed by Troopers Linn, Goertz, and Bordelon. The suspect was subsequently located under a residence on S. Saratoga Street approximately two blocks from the scene. Troopers Linn, Goertz, and Bordelon's proactive observations and their tactical response played a significant role in the successful outcome of the case and apprehension of the subject.