by Legislature for Heroic Actions
OKLAHOMA CITY- (May 14, 2008) -Two Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen were honored today on the House floor for saving the lives of a Kingfisher couple during flash floods caused by Hurricane Erin last summer.
Official state citations were presented to Lt. Brian Sturgill and Trooper Joe Howard in recognition of their heroic actions on August 19,2007 when they rescued couple Leroy and Bernice Krittenbrink from their submerged vehicle as fast-moving floodwaters threatened to wash it away from U.S. Highway 81 north of Kingfisher.
“In times of war, it is easy to focus our praise on our military men and women, who certainly deserve all the honor we can give them,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “But everyday, our men and women in law enforcement are also putting their lives on the line to protect our citizens and our homes so that we can live, work and raise our families with peace of mind. It is because of the selfless sacrifice of men and women like Lieutenant Brian Sturgill and Trooper Joe Howard that thousands of people are able to weather tragedies and emergencies and live to see another day.”
The patrolmen, who are assigned to the Aircraft Division, had been called out to assist in rescue efforts near Kingfisher where heavy rainfall had stranded several motorists and homeowners. When the helicopter reached the Krittenbrink’s vehicle, it was obvious to the troopers that the couple was in immediate danger of being swept away and possibly drowning.
Lt. Sturgill piloted the helicopter, while Trooper Howard helped Sturgill navigate the aircraft into position to rescue the couple.
Kingfisher Fire Chief Randy Poindexter also assisted in the rescue.
The treacherous rescue operation took nearly an hour because the exhausted victims were unable to hold on and fell several times back into the rushing waters. After several attempts, the couple was delivered safely to dry ground.
The rescue was broadcast live throughout the nation and was even watched by the Krittenbrink’s daughter in Utah.
Last week, Sturgill and Howard each received the prestigious 2007 Oklahoma Highway Users Federation “Trooper of the Year” award for heroism beyond the call of duty.