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North Carolina trooper receives Govenor's Award

NC Trooper begin recognized by Govenor

 

What started as an ordinary day for one local trooper ended up with him being recognized across the state as a hero.  Trooper Jonathan Gouge with Troop F in Burke County was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence for Safety and Heroism in a ceremony on Sept. 27.  Gouge said he was driving through Valdese with his wife on the morning of Jan. 2 when he noticed heavy smoke coming from a home on Eldred Street.  Gouge was off duty, but that didn’t stop him from acting quickly.  He said he pulled over to investigate, and a neighbor told him a woman was still inside the apartment.  Gouge tried to get someone to the door, but no one answered, so he tried to kick in the door only to find it had been dead bolted.  The trooper wouldn’t be deterred though.  He wrapped his hand in his hooded sweatshirt and broke through a window in the door to get into the home.  Gouge said he found a stunned woman, who didn’t appear to know what was happening, standing outside of her bedroom.  “I think she was sleeping,” Gouge said.  “I think I had just woke her up when I tried to kick down the door.”  Gouge said the woman was screaming and confused, but he helped her out of the burning apartment then headed back inside to get her medications.  But Gouge’s heroism didn’t stop there.  The quick-thinking trooper headed back into the flames once again and ushered out two of the woman’s small dogs, then located a third and brought it safely outside.  Along with the Governor’s Award, Gouge has been recognized locally by Chief Charlie Watts with the Valdese Fire Department, who said he was told on the scene that a trooper had helped the woman outside.  “I think, had he not been there that day, there would be at least one victim,” Watts said. “The elderly lady in the apartment would have died or suffered serious injury. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”  Gouge also was commended by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.  “I received the Valor Award,” he said. “That’s the highest one you can get from Highway Patrol, so I was very honored.  That was pretty cool.”  Gouge said he has never had any special training and has never worked or volunteered as a firefighter, but he just did what he hoped anyone in the same situation would do.  “I’d hope someone would stop and help my family,” he said.  “I feel like we should just help each other out.”

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