|STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2011
TroopS c, d, e and k
Receive Service Awards
State Police Troopers from Troop C in Tolland, Troop D in Danielson, Troop E in Montville and Troop K in Colchester received awards for service during a ceremony November 17 at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate bravery and outstanding service in the line of duty. The ceremony also honors men and women serving in local and federal law enforcement agencies, those serving as first responders, and civilians. Award winners received medals and certificates from Commissioner Reuben F. Bradford and State Police Colonel Danny R. Stebbins.
Awards were presented in five categories:
Ø The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to those who render service with a high degree of alertness, perseverance and superior judgment in the performance of a difficult task resulting in the protection of life, recovery of property, the prevention of – or solving of – a major crime or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.
Ø The Lifesaving Award is presented to those who save a human life or make a valiant attempt to save a life.
Ø The Outstanding Service Award is given to those who successfully perform an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The Trooper may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and/or continuously achieve excellence in performance over an extended period of time.
Ø The Unit Citation is awarded to members of a department, a command or group who combine their resources to achieve success in an investigation or event. The citation recognizes exceptional collective efforts.
Ø The Commissioner’s Recognition Award is presented by the agency commissioner to a person who has been instrumental in helping the State Police accomplish their job of public safety for all. This is generally presented to civilians (non-law enforcement).
Awards were presented to:
Stafford Police Sergeant James Desso On March 5, 2011, at 1:31 p.m., Stafford Police Sgt. Desso was assigned to investigate a suspicious vehicle parked on a road in Stafford.
Sgt. Desso found an unresponsive man in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. He opened the driver’s door and detected a strong odor of exhaust fumes inside the vehicle. Sgt.Desso removed the man from the vehicle and radioed for medical assistance. Sgt. Desso located a running, gas powered machine inside the vehicle, along with a suicide note.
EMS personnel determined the man’s oxygen level was at a critically low level. The male did not regain consciousness at the scene but was transported to a local hospital, where he made a full recovery. Sgt. Desso earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper First Class Joseph Morelli, Trooper Michael O’Hara On February 11, 2011, Troopers from Troop D responded to a report of a missing, suicidal female in Old Furnace State Park in Killingly. Initial patrol attempts failed to locate the woman through cell phone calls, areas searches and patrol K-9 searches. Trooper Morelli and K-9 Thor were dispatched to the area as night began to fall. Weather conditions at the time were severe, with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees and with three feet of snow on the ground.
Trooper Morelli and Thor, along with Trooper O’Hara, obtained snowshoes and entered the forest at approximately 8:20 p.m. They trailed the subject for a distance of about two miles through streams, ledges and dense forest. As their search entered its second hour, the Troopers located the woman in grave condition. She was suffering from severe hypothermia, was disoriented, and had difficulty communicating with the Troopers. The Troopers quickly treated her before taking her to emergency medical personnel. She was transported to a nearby hospital which reported that her core body temperature was significantly decreased. Had she had not been found, it was likely she would not have survived the night.
Troopers Morelli and O’Hara each earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper First Class Nicholas Leary Foxwoods Casino Security contacted the Casino Unit Detectives to report that an 89-year-old woman was missing. Her son reported to security that his mother had dementia and utilized a walker because of a bad hip. A search found that the last play of her rewards card was at 5 p.m. The woman’s name was paged with no response and a check of the interior of the casino was negative.
Surveillance found closed circuit footage that showed the elderly woman walking out of a room at 8:33 p.m. The woman’s cell phone was pinged and indicated a hit southeast of Foxwoods. Trooper Leary and his K-9 Max began a track at 3 a.m. K-9 Max immediately began to follow a scent trail that led to Route 214, off the casino property.
K-9 Max continued to track for about a mile and a half, into fields and a wooded area. At about 3:30 a.m., Trooper Leary and Max located the elderly woman on the ground down an embankment. The woman was conscious and alert after being in the woods for approximately seven hours. She was transported to a local hospital for observation. TFC Leary earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper First Classs Scott Blair, Trooper First Classs Allen Beland, Trooper First Classs Jay Gershowitz, Sergeant Jack Sauve Troop C received a 911 call on May 15, 2011, at 10:11 a.m., from a Stafford woman reporting that her husband had taken numerous prescription pills, retrieved a handgun and left their residence. Troop C deskman Trooper Gershowitz learned that the husband was en-route to his auto repair garage. Trooper Blair and Trooper Beland responded to the garage and found all doors and windows locked. Sgt. Sauvé responded to the residence to retrieve the keys to the garage and the empty prescription bottle.
Sgt. Sauve and Troopers Blair and Beland entered the garage and announced their presence without locating the victim. An overhead loft was discovered with pull-down stairs. The Troopers climbed up to the loft and found the victim hiding in the dark in a far corner. The victim refused to comply with directives, so the Troopers took the victim into protective custody.
The victim admitted taking numerous pills and said the handgun was in his vehicle, where the Troopers later located it. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment and made a full recovery. The Troopers involved in this incident each earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper Christopher Hubbard On May 26, 2011, at 1:29 a.m., Trooper Hubbard was dispatched to a call regarding a despondent and suicidal male in Jewett City. The caller reported that her boyfriend was intoxicated and had left their residence on foot after making suicidal statements, indicating that he would jump into a river. Just prior to that call, Trooper Hubbard had noticed a male walking towards the Quinnebaug River Bridge.
Trooper Hubbard returned to the bridge and found the suicidal male sitting on the bridge railing overlooking the river 100 feet below. Trooper Hubbard talked with the male and delivered verbal commands, which the man refused while responding with loud profanities.
As the male turned his head to look at the river below, Trooper Hubbard grabbed him and pulled him off the railing to the safety of the sidewalk, where he was restrained until other Troopers arrived. Trooper Hubbard earned an Award for Lifesaving.
East Haddam Corporal Karl Karabeinikoff, Trooper First Class David Southworth On January 24, 2011, at approximately 12:04 p.m., Troop K received notice of an unresponsive male locked inside a vehicle at an East Haddam residence. Temperatures were well below zero and it had snowed overnight.
Corporal Karabeinikoff and Trooper Southworth responded and found the unconscious male in the driver’s seat, locked inside the snow-covered vehicle. They broke the right rear passenger side window and unlocked the doors. Large amounts of snow had to be cleared away from the vehicle before the driver’s door could be opened.
Trooper Southworth found the victim to be cold to the touch, without a pulse, breathing shallowly and barely able to open his eyes. Corporal Karabeinikoff administered oxygen to the victim. They kept the victim alert until medical services arrived and transported the victim to a medical facility, where it was learned that he was suffering from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thanks to the intervention and quick response of Corporal Karabeinikoff and Trooper Southworth, the victim was saved and made a full recovery. Their actions earned each of them an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper David Tretter On May 24, 2011, Trooper Tretter and his K-9 Ranger responded to Griswold to search for a missing woman. Trooper Tretter and Ranger conducted a track and located the missing female in a wooded area behind her residence.
The missing female was semi-conscious with a faint pulse. Trooper Tretter placed the woman on his shoulders and carried her out of the woods. Other responding Troopers worked on maintaining an open airway and assessing vitals. The victim was then transported to a local hospital.
The woman was not expected to survive when initially diagnosed at the hospital. However, she did make a full recovery. Trooper Tretter earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper Philip Gawronski, Sergeant Andrew Matthews On March 5, 2011, Trooper Philip Gawronski and Sergeant Andrew Matthews responded to a motor vehicle accident on Interstate 84 westbound, near Exit 66 in Vernon.
They found a vehicle off the right shoulder of the westbound travel lanes. The vehicle was at final rest on its roof and facing south. They observed the male operator lying fifteen feet west of the vehicle’s location. The man was unconscious and unresponsive.
Trooper Gawronski performed a sternum rub and gave verbal commands, but received no response from the man. The Trooper found no pulse and no signs of respiration on the man. Sgt. Matthews began providing chest compressions while Trooper Gawronski provided positive ventilations. They continued CPR until medical personnel arrived on scene, as which time Trooper Gawronski checked the victim and found that he had a pulse and was breathing. The operator was transported to the hospital.
The Troopers each earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper Daniel McCormack On August 2, 2011, just before midnight, Trooper Daniel McCormack of Troop K was off duty in the town of Norwich in his assigned vehicle when he was flagged down by a concerned citizen who reported that a woman had just jumped off a bridge into the Shetucket River.
Trooper McCormack observed the woman wet from the water on the rocks below the bridge. As he approached the woman, she again jumped into the water, stating that she wanted to die because she had lost her kids to the state and had no reason to live. The woman then submerged herself a second time. With no concern for his own personal safety, Trooper McCormack entered the water, located the submerged woman and pulled her ashore to safety.
Trooper McCormack earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper Joseph Strogoff On April 10, 2011, Trooper Joseph Strogoff was on patrol on Route 83 in Ellington when he observed a vehicle fire, with two individuals standing at the roadside. He also found multiple unconscious individuals inside the burning vehicle.
Trooper Strogoff ran to the passenger side of the burning vehicle and pulled an unconscious female to an area of safety. Trooper Strogoff then returned to the burning vehicle and pulled an unconscious male from the rear seat. Finally, Trooper Strogoff returned to the driver’s side of the burning vehicle and observed another unconscious male lying on the ground next to the vehicle. Trooper Strogoff and the individuals at the roadside pulled this man away from the burning vehicle.
Just as the final person was moved, the vehicle became fully engulfed in flames. The operator of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene; however both passengers were flown via helicopter to a local hospital and were expected to make full recoveries.
Trooper Strogoff earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Trooper First Class Kevin Eklund On September 14, 2011, at approximately 11:00 a.m., the Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit was called to Colchester, where a 30-year-old female was reported missing for more than 15 hours. State Police search and rescue teams were deployed to the area, including Trooper First Class Kevin Eklund and his K-9, Bronte.
Within one hour, Trooper Eklund and Bronte located the woman approximately a half-mile from her residence, unconscious in a cemetery. The despondent female had taken numerous prescription drugs and had consumed alcohol. She had a pulse and was going in and out of consciousness. The woman was transported to a local hospital where she ultimately recovered.
Trooper Eklund earned an Award for Lifesaving.
Detective Wayne Opdenbrouw On April 27, 2011, Det. Opdenbrouw began an investigation into a fire at a mill in Norwich and determined that the fire was intentionally set.
Det. Opdenbrouw found that the fire was linked to 15 other arson cases that occurred in Norwich between 2005 and 2010. As the lead investigator of an arson task force, Det. Opdenbrouw was responsible for the investigation and re-investigation of these 15 arson fires, some of which caused injuries.
Following the investigation, Det. Opdenbrouw made 32 arrests of 10 individuals for a variety of charges including tampering with a witness, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal mischief and burglary. On September 9, 2011, the ringleader of the arson spree was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement with these fires.
Det. Opdenbrouw’s expertise as a fire investigator and accelerant canine handler were critical to the successful conclusion of these arson cases. Det. Opdenbrouw earned an award for Outstanding Service.
Troop E, Montville; Eastern District Major Crime Squad On April 20, 2011, at 2:51 p.m., Troopers from Troop E responded to Interstate 95 South, near exit 88 in Groton, for a report of a cab driver who had just been robbed by two men. The cab driver was bringing the men to a train station in Rhode Island, when New London Police called to tell him that his two passengers were involved in a criminal incident and requested that he drive the two men back to New London.
While enroute back to New London, one of the passengers told the driver that he had a gun; the driver then felt a metal object touching the back of his head. He immediately pulled over and the two males exited the cab and fled into the woods off I-95 in Groton.
Troopers set up a perimeter and began an extensive search of the area, aided by Groton Town Police. Trooper First Class Michael Zmayefski and his K-9 Peruan located a 9mm handgun, which was discovered to be stolen from a New London residence. Detectives from the Eastern District Major Crime Squad responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.
Troopers continued to search for the two suspects throughout the night. Sergeant Troy Gelinas obtained the cell phone number of one of the suspects and the phone was tracked to a Groton motel. Sgt. Gelinas contacted several hotels and a clerk at one motel stated that an individual with that suspect’s name made a reservation and had checked into a room at 4 a.m. State Police obtained a key at the front desk and Sergeant John Mesham, Trooper First Class Edward Lallo, Trooper First Class Gary Butters and Trooper Paul Piper proceeded to the room. Sgt. Mesham announced “State Police” and opened the door to the room. Someone from inside was attempting to keep the door shut but once Troopers gained entry, both suspects were taken into custody.
All Troopers and Detectives involved in this case earned a Unit Citation Award.