OHP Trooper of the Year Awards
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is pleased to announce that Lieutenant Brian Sturgill and Trooper Joe Howard were selected to receive the prestigious, "Trooper of the Year" award for 2007, from the Oklahoma Highway Users Foundation. The awards stemmed from their heroic actions on August 19, 2007, that saved the lives of a Kingfisher couple who were surrounded by flood waters and trapped in their flooded vehicle which had been swept off US Highway 81 north of Kingfisher.
The awards were presented to the Trooper and Lieutenant in a ceremony today in Oklahoma City. "The conditions I was flying under seemed impossible, but I couldn't let them die! It was a humbling experience," said Lieutenant Brian Sturgill. "It is amazing to receive such a great award from this great organization,"said Trooper Joe Howard, both are assigned to the aircraft division of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and were joined in the ceremony by Kingfisher Fire Chief Randy Poindexter who also assisted in the rescue.
Traditionally, the "Trooper of the Year" award is presented to members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to recognize heroic acts above and beyond the call of duty. The awards presented Thursday to Lieutenant Brian Sturgill and Trooper Joe Howard were for just that. Both pilots were flying in an OHP helicopter the day of the rescue. They had been requested to assist in rescue efforts in Kingfisher county due to heavy rainfall from the previous day, that had stranded motorists and cut homes off from services. When the pilots arrived on scene, they knew from a previous report that the couple was facing being swept away by the rushing flood waters; and without swift intervention, they would possibly drown.
Without regard for their own safety, Lieutenant Sturgill and Trooper Howard hovered the helicopter above the flood waters and with the help of Chief Poindexter were able to pluck Leroy and Bernice Krittenbrink from the water, and safely delivered them to rescue units on dry ground. The rescue was tedious, took several attempts to complete and at times appeared would fail. Both the troopers as well as the Krittenbrinks were totally exhausted when the ordeal was over; and two troopers of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol were thrust into the national spotlight as heroes.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety also presented three "Jerry Marx" memorial awards. The awards are presented in memory of the late Jerry Marx, fondly known as the "Voice of the Highway Patrol" throughout the nineteen years he served as spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (1949 to 1968).
The awards are presented annually in recognition of "Excellence in Reporting" in support of traffic safety issues by the media. This years recipients were:
Radio Category: Gayle Ledbetter with KEYB radio Altus, Ok
Print Category: Julie Bisbee with The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Ok
Television Category: Lori Fulbright with KOTV "The News on 6", Tulsa, Ok
"These individuals have distinguished themselves in their respective fields for the professional journalism and coverage of public safety issues affecting all of Oklahoma; and we appreciate their efforts", said Public Safety Commissioner Kevin L. Ward.. Each of these individuals and their media organizations have embodied the spirit of what the Jerry Marx Memorial Award is all about.