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Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds to Honor Des Moines Officers with Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor

This news story was published on November 8, 2012.
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(DES MOINES) – Governor Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds are pleased to honor six police officers with the 2012 Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor.  Every day men and women in uniform quietly serve, sacrificing their safety to keep Iowa communities secure.  It is only appropriate the state take time to honor the officers and firefighters who go above and beyond the call of duty.  This year, Governor Branstad will honor professionals who risked their own personal safety to rescue passengers from the burning wreckage of a car crash.

On August 28, 2011, Sergeant Michael McTaggart, Officers Colin Boone, Aaron Cawthorne, Jeremy Sprague and Robin Swank; along with Reserve Officer John Carter, responded to a crash at the intersection of Southeast 14th and Hartford streets.

Upon their arrival, officers observed a Ford Explorer had turned on its side and was fully ablaze.  The officers immediately assessed and secured the scene and began to take action to rescue the occupants of the vehicle.

Working in close proximity to the fire and knowing the vehicle could explode at any moment, the officers broke out a back window of the vehicle to rescue one of the victims.  Meanwhile, other officers climbed on top of the vehicle to pull the second victim out a side window.  Still others used fire extinguishers in an attempted to squelch the fire, repeatedly returning to fight the fire after retrieving additional extinguishers from the patrol cars on the scene.

After moving both victims clear of the intense flames, the officers continued to render aid until fire medics arrived on the scene.  Without their brave efforts, the two victims who were rescued could have sustained significant injuries or been fatally injured.  Unfortunately, one young woman perished in this incident.

The driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision was subsequently convicted of Vehicular Homicide and sentenced to 25 years in prison.  In addition, he was convicted of four counts of Serious Injury by a Motor Vehicle and sentenced to five years for each count.

During the intense and dangerous incident, each officer’s daring efforts contributed to freeing the victims from the blazing vehicle.  Without regard for their personal safety, each officer put themselves in harm’s way and worked with each other as a team.


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