AUSTIN - The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw presented one Director’s Citation,three Lifesaving Awards, and 11 Director’s Awards at an award ceremony today in Austin. Additionally, two Troopers (one male and one female) were officially honored as the 2018 DPS Top Troopers.
“The DPS personnel and other public servants honored today personify the department’s efforts to save lives and protect the public,” said Director McCraw. “Texans can be proud that these award recipients are committed each and every day to protecting and serving this great state, and we are better off because of their selfless dedication.”
Trooper Ilusion Reyes, Texas Highway Patrol–El Paso and Trooper Aaron Jones, Texas Highway Patrol–New Boston, each received the Javier Arana Jr. Top Trooper Award given every year to the top female and top male competitor. The 7th annual competition was held at the Tactical Training Center in Florence, Texas, on Feb. 28 and March 1, 2018, and 31 Troopers from across the state showcased their driving and firearms skills; physical conditioning and endurance; and job knowledge. The Top Trooper competition was established in 2012 and the award was named in honor of Trooper Javier Arana Jr., who was killed in the line of duty earlier that year. Trooper Arana’s family helped present the awards at the PSC meeting.
“We are thankful to Cindy Arana for allowing us to continue her husband’s legacy here at the Department of Public Safety through this award program,” said Director McCraw. “And we are proud of this year’s Top Troopers as well as all who competed for this prestigious award.”
The following awards also were presented today:
Trooper Arturo Ugalde, Texas Highway Patrol–Sulphur Springs, received a Director’s Citation, and U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ronnie Montemayor, Faustino Ramos, and Patrick Philpot each received a Director’s Award. On Nov. 25, 2016, Trooper Ugalde, who was deployed to the Rio Grande Valley in support of Operation Secure Texas, and Border Patrol (BP) Agents Montemayor and Philpot were among those who were patrolling in Starr County when gunfire was reported on the Mexico side of the border. The gunfire was believed to be an exchange between the Mexican military and three individuals attempting to illegally gain entry into the U.S. While monitoring the situation, an unknown person from the Mexico side of the border fired upon officers, striking Trooper Danny Shaw once in the hip area and BP Agent Philpot once in his ballistic armor. While the shooting incident was still active, BP Agents Montemayor and Philpot and Trooper Ugalde carried the injured Trooper out of the direct line of fire to assess his injuries. BP Agent Ramos responded to the area, applied a tourniquet and began initial first aid on Trooper Shaw, continuing those efforts aboard a DPS helicopter on route to a McAllen hospital. Trooper Shaw received a Purple Heart in December of 2017 for injuries suffered in the line of duty.
Cierra Nixon and Joshua Wagner, Acadian Emergency Medical Services; and Orange Fire Department employees Cody Caples, Terry Veitch, Jacob Bilbo and Greg Gravett each received a Director’s Award. On the morning of Oct. 20, 2017, Trooper Phil Brady was securing a spare tire under his patrol unit, when he advised his sergeant that he wasn’t feeling well. After returning to the office, the sergeant called 911 when the Trooper showed signs of distress. After the first responders arrived on the scene, Acadian Emergency Services EMT Nixon and Paramedic Wagner found Trooper Brady unresponsive, and immediately began CPR and utilized a heart defibrillator. Orange Fire Department personnel arrived on scene shortly thereafter, and Captains Caples and Veitch along with Firefighters Gravett and Bilbo assisted with the CPR and heart resuscitation efforts. Due to their vigorous and determined efforts, Trooper Brady’s heartbeat and breathing were restored, and he was transported to a Port Arthur hospital. The treating physician advised that Brady had sustained a heart attack, and the efforts of EMS and fire personnel saved Trooper Brady’s life and prevented major damage to his heart.
Agent Pilot Miguel Avila, Aircraft Operations Division–Edinburg, received a Lifesaving Award. On Oct. 25, 2017, Agent Pilot Avila was on his way home after his scheduled shift when he encountered a major crash on the frontage road of U.S. 281 in Hidalgo County. A passenger vehicle had collided with the back of a truck-tractor/semi-trailer, and first responders had not yet arrived on scene. The driver of the passenger vehicle was trapped inside and bleeding severely. Unable to gain entry through the doors, Avila obtained a hammer from a citizen on scene and broke out a window. The victim had arterial bleeding coming from a severe laceration to the left side of her neck. Avila applied a clotting agent and maintained direct pressure to the wound until fire and emergency personnel arrived and extracted the victim from the wreckage, allowing EMS personnel to begin treating the injured woman, who ultimately survived.
Special Agent Santos Carrasco Jr., Criminal Investigations Division–El Paso, received a Lifesaving Award. On June 26, 2017, Special Agent Carrasco was off duty traveling on Loop 375 in El Paso when he observed a man sitting on the ledge of an overpass in position to possibly jump. Agent Carrasco immediately began engaging the subject in conversation, even though the man would not respond. Carrasco signaled a nearby motorist to call 911. After approximately 10 minutes, the subject began discussing his personal situation with Carrasco, who then offered to contact someone for the distressed man or provide other assistance. The subject stepped off the barrier and asked Carrasco to contact his father for him. The El Paso Police Department arrived on the scene and took custody of the man.
Trooper Justin Reese, Texas Highway Patrol–Madisonville, received a Lifesaving Award and Madisonville Police Department Sgt. Hector Camarillo and Officer Lucas Cunningham each received a Director’s Award. On May 13, 2017, the three officers responded to a local business after a report of an unresponsive female. The three assessed the situation, relayed vital information to dispatch and cleared the area for responding medical personnel to arrive. Trooper Reese determined the victim had no pulse and her face was turning blue from lack of oxygen. Officer Cunningham began chest compressions while Sgt. Camarillo and Trooper Reese provided ventilation using a bag mask valve, and each alternated on chest compressions to assist one another with lifesaving measures. When medics arrived, they provided an electric shock with a defibrillator. The process was repeated until her heartbeat was reestablished, and she was transported to the hospital after being stabilized.