Tpr. Kurt Johnson, 44, of the Virginia State Police was recently named the American Association of State Troopers 2010 Trooper of the Year for his heroic actions of rescuing a child following a fiery crash.
Just before midnight on February 6, 2009, Johnson was on routine patrol in Accomack County when he happened on the scene of a vehicle that had run off the road, overturned, and caught fire.
The driver had crawled out of the burning wreckage and pulled two of her small children to safety. She was unable to locate the third child and was screaming for the trooper to rescue her 3-year-old daughter.
Johnson knew he had to act quickly. He attempted to extinguish the fire, but when he realized it was more than his portable extinguisher could handle, he immediately crawled inside the burning vehicle through the crumpled rear passenger door, with the interior of the vehicle completely filled with smoke and the flames spreading quickly. He located the child wedged under the dashboard and pulled her to safety. Within seconds, the entire car was engulfed in flames.
Emergency workers determined that both of the child’s legs had been broken in the crash. The event occurred on the child’s third birthday, and the driver was believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Johnson, dubbed by local media as “Angel Trooper” following the incident, is a 31â„2-year veteran of the department. He was treated and released for smoke inhalation.
“Tpr. Johnson’s quick and decisive thinking saved the life of a child,” AAST President Tommy Moore said. “Thanks to his heroic actions without regard for his own safety, this child lived and will see many more birthdays.” As Trooper of the Year, Johnson and his wife were treated by AAST and the National Safety Commission to an all expense paid trip to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to receive his award during a June 1 luncheon.
The AAST Trooper of the Year award is presented annually to a state trooper who exemplified traits of an outstanding law enforcement officer in the previous year.
The award is sponsored by Ken Underwood, founder and CEO of the National Safety Commission (www.nationalsafetycommission.com), one of the nation’s leading providers of driver education services. The company provides a variety of online driver education courses in all 50 states and has been recognized as America’s second fastest growing education company.
For more information about AAST, visit www.statetroopers.org.