Connecticut State Police gives medals for bravery, service
Law enforcers responding to an explosion in Hamden and a fiery vehicle crash into Middlesex Hospital were among those honored by the Connecticut State Police in a ceremony attended by Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman Tuesdayat the State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
State police awarded medals to troopers, other law enforcers, first responders and civilians in connection with incidents in Troop A, B, G and L area towns. The incidents in this area were:
In the Hamden explosion, medals went to the state police Central District Major Crime Squad, FBI, U.S. attorney’s office; state’s attorney’s office, DEA and the police departments of New Haven, Woodbridge, Orange, Hamden, West Haven and Southern Connecticut State University. On July 4, 2015, a large explosion was reported on state property in Hamden. A deceased male was found in a wooded area adjacent to the road, wrapped in plastic bags and bound with tape and rope. An intensive investigation was initiated by the state police Central District Major Crime Squad with the assistance of West Haven police and the FBI New Haven Office. Other law enforcement agencies joined the investigation, focusing on a residence in West Haven. Detectives conducted a comprehensive, meticulous forensic search of the residence with their law enforcement peers. For 11 days, investigators worked nearly around the clock, processing the crime scene, analyzing volumes of electronic data, vetting more than 100 leads, seizing more than 300 items of evidentiary value and completing and/or executing 17 state and federal search warrants. Five perpetrators were identified and arrested on various charges, including murder, in connection with this investigation. All involved earned the Medal for Outstanding Service and the Unit Citation Award.
In the Middlesex Hospital crash, medals went to the Emergency Services Unit Bomb Squad. On Feb. 22, 2018, just before 10 a.m. that morning, the Middletown Police and Fire departments responded to the hospital for a vehicle that had crashed into the emergency room entrance. First responders found the vehicle on fire and the driver lying on the ground, also on fire. Bomb squad members tried to eliminate any immediate hazards and discovered gasoline containers in the vehicle. The bomb squad assisted the FBI Evidence Recovery Team, the Fire Explosion and Investigation Unit, and Middletown police detectives with evidence recovery in the service of a search warrant at the driver’s residence. The teamwork exhibited by all agencies in this incident - from the response, to securing and processing the scene, to intelligence and investigation - was exemplary and earned the Unit Citation Award for the bomb squad.
Also in Middletown, Trooper John Swokla, civilian James Carroll and civilian Stephen Eberle earned recognition. On July 16, 2017, at 9 p.m., Trooper Swokla arrived at a motor vehicle accident on Route 9. He found the vehicle on fire and two civilians, Carroll and Eberle, attempting to pull the operator out of the burning vehicle. Trooper Swokla quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher from the trunk of his vehicle and joined the civilians. He utilized the extinguisher to control the flames near the driver’s side door while the civilians successfully pulled the driver to safety. The car quickly became fully engulfed in flames. The operator was transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. The quick thinking and selfless behavior of Trooper Swokla, Carroll and Eberle saved the life of the operator. Trooper Swokla earned the Medal for Lifesaving; Carroll and Eberle earned the Commissioner’s Recognition Award.
In Woodbridge, Trooper Roman Gray and Trooper Josue Dorelus were honored. On Feb. 6, 2017, at approximately 1:10 a.m., Troop I received a report of a head-on collision on Route 15 southbound in Woodbridge. Trooper Gray arrived on the scene and observed that one of the vehicles involved was engulfed in flames and the driver was behind the wheel, unconscious. Trooper Dorelus arrived on scene and both troopers quickly removed the driver from the burning vehicle. They found that the operator did not have a pulse and immediately commenced CPR, continuing until EMS/Fire arrived to transport the operator to a local hospital. Troopers Gray and Dorelus disregarded their own personal safety when they entered the burning vehicle to extract the driver. They earned the Medal for Meritorious Service.
In Westbrook, Trooper Donald Dunning and Trooper First Class David Tretter earned citations. On Christmas Day, 2017, at 12:45 p.m., Troop F received a 911 call from a mother who discovered her teenage daughter attempting to hang herself. The caller untied the ligature and the teen ran out of the house. The caller believed that the teen still intended to harm herself. Trooper Dunning arrived at the residence and began to search the area. There were no footprints in the snow, so he searched the interior of the house. In the basement, the teen was discovered in a utility closet in another hanging suicide attempt. Trooper Dunning utilized a pocket knife to cut the victim down as Trooper Tretter arrived on scene. They discovered that the teen did not have a pulse and was not breathing. The troopers immediately began CPR and within minutes the victimad a pulse and was gasping for air. The troopers monitored the teen’s breathing; circulation and a radial pulse were verified. Paramedics arrived to transport the teen to a local clinic. The troopers earned the Medal for Lifesaving.
In Killingworth, Trooper First Class Scott Wisner earned his honors. On March 12, 2018, Trooper Wisner responded to a Killingworth residence on a report of a female suffering from a heart attack. He found the woman unresponsive to stimuli, not breathing and without a pulse. Trooper Wisner immediately began CPR and continued until Emergency Medical Services arrived with a defibrillator. The defibrillator administered shocks to the woman until a heartbeat was re-established. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The immediate medical response of Trooper Wisner saved the life of the woman. He earned the Medal for Lifesaving.
In East Haddam, Officer Karl Karabeinikoff earned the Medal for Lifesaving when, on Sept. 8, 2017, at 8:19 a.m., he responded to an East Haddam residence for an elderly male in need of medical assistance. After arriving on the scene, the officer administered oxygen to the man. Suddenly, the man lost consciousness and a pulse could not be detected. Officer Karabeinkoff immediately began CPR while awaiting medical services. After 25 minutes of administering CPR, the man regained a pulse; he was transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment. Officer Karabeinikoff’s outstanding medical aid saved the life of the elderly man.
In Bridgeport, Trooper First Class Michael Beauton earned his medal on Aug. 10, 2017, at 1 p.m., when Troop G broadcast that a vehicle fled a traffic stop at a high rate of speed, colliding with a motorist and two bicyclists at an intersection. The operator of the car struck by the suspect vehicle was killed, and, although both bicyclists survived, one of them suffered an amputated leg. The operator of the suspect vehicle, a convicted violent felon, was uninjured and fled the crash scene on foot. Trooper Beauton monitored transmissions from Bridgeport Police and heard of a possible suspect sighting in a backyard. Trooper Beauton and his K-9 Nero responded to the location and found an open basement door. He obtained consent to search the basement and shouted several warnings into the basement, affording the suspect ample time to surrender. When no suspect made himself known, K-9 Nero was deployed to search for the suspect. K-9 Nero quickly located the suspect, who immediately began to assault the K-9, striking Nero’s head and face, and gouging his eyes. Trooper Beauton and Bridgeport officers brought the suspect under control and placed him in handcuffs. The suspect was in possession of a large amount of heroin, crack and powder cocaine. Trooper Beauton and K-9 Nero placed themselves at great risk as they located and apprehended a violent criminal that, moments before, was responsible for the death of an innocent motorist, and the serious injury of two bicyclists. He earned the Medal for Outstanding Service.
In Norwalk, Trooper First Class Marc O’Mara was honored. On Oct. 14, 2014, at 10 p.m., Norwalk police received 911 calls from tour bus passengers reporting that an individual onboard was actively stabbing other passengers. The bus was traveling through a construction zone on Interstate 95 northbound so the driver maneuvered onto the shoulder, behind Trooper O’Mara, who was working a construction project. The armed male had already stabbed four passengers and was continuing to attack others. Trooper O’Mara saw one passenger restraining another in the front section of bus, then both passengers stumbled out onto the highway. Trooper O’Mara witnessed the armed passenger attempting to stab the other passenger. He ordered the armed man to drop the weapon, but the man refused and continued his attack. Trooper O’Mara engaged the man with deadly force, at which time the suspect attempted to attack Trooper O’Mara with the edged weapon. Again, Trooper O’Mara engaged the armed subject with deadly force. Recognizing that many people were in imminent danger of being seriously wounded or killed, Trooper O’Mara neutralized the imminent threat, and in doing so, saved the lives of the passengers. The heroic and swift actions of Trooper O’Mara prevented loss of life among the passengers of the bus and himself. He earned the Medal of Honor.
In Stamford, Trooper Eduardo Santiago earned honors. On Jan.15, 2018, Troop G dispatch received numerous 911 calls reporting a wrong-way driver on I-95. The vehicle was observed on highway cameras traveling northbound in the southbound lanes at a high rate of speed. Traffic at the time was moderate and there were numerous near misses with passing motorists. Trooper Santiago immediately drove to the area, slowing down traffic with a rolling road block. He observed the suspect vehicle coming at him in the area of exit 12 in Darien, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision, but striking his cruiser. Both vehicles sustained heavy, disabling damage and were blocking the left and center lanes. Due to damage to his cruiser, Trooper Santiago was forced to climb out of the passenger side to check on the suspect vehicle’s driver. After failing field sobriety tests, the suspect was determined to be under the influence of alcohol and was taken into custody. Trooper Santiago intentionally put himself in harm’s way to protect other drivers on the road. He earned the Medal for Meritorious Service.
In Westport, Trooper Roberto Juan earned a medal for service on June 16, 2018, at 1 p.m., when Troop G received a 911 report of an unresponsive individual in a car parked in the Route 15 Exit 42 commuter lot in Westport. Trooper Juan arrived on scene and found an unresponsive male seated in the vehicle. The man was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Trooper Juan quickly removed him from the vehicle and initiated CPR lifesaving efforts. He continued CPR for five minutes and was successful in obtaining a pulse. The man was later transported to a local hospital. The immediate response of Trooper Juan resuscitated the male and undoubtedly saved his life. Trooper Juan earned the Medal for Lifesaving.