Trooper James O. Ray, of the Arkansas State Police has been recognized nationally for his extremely selfless act of bravery that saved a motorist on the highway.
The American Association of State Troopers recognized Trooper James O. Ray’s heroic actions by naming him the 2021 Trooper of the Year for his pursuit of a fleeing suspect preventing a catastrophic collision between the suspect and an innocent motorist.
On December 4, 2020, at 10:37 a.m., Trooper James Ray was assisting Officer Matt Young with the Arkansas Highway Police with a vehicle that was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 40 near the town of Ozark. Officer Young had stopped with the vehicle to check on the welfare of the driver and had learned that the driver's license was suspended. The side windows on the vehicle were spray painted black preventing Officer Young from seeing through anything other than the driver's window. Knowing that Trooper James Ray was in the area, Officer Young called him to assist with the unusual encounter. When Trooper Ray arrived and he Officer Young began to contact the subject again, the subject placed his vehicle in drive and sped away from the scene traveling westbound on Interstate 40.
During the ensuing pursuit, the suspect fled at speeds over 100 mph and passed several vehicles on the shoulder as he drove very erratically. When given the opportunity to safely end the pursuit, Trooper Ray performed a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) on the fleeing suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle was forced into a clockwise rotation in the westbound lanes. Unfortunately, the suspect was able to regain control of his vehicle and began driving eastbound in the westbound lanes, posing an extreme danger to other motorists who were now meeting the fleeing suspect head-on. The suspect traveled a short distance before he crossed the median and began traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes, again driving head-on into the unsuspecting eastbound traffic traveling at interstate speeds.
Trooper Ray, realizing he was running out of options to stop an extremely dangerous driver, drove west in the westbound lanes to get ahead of the fleeing driver who was westbound in the eastbound lanes.
Trooper Ray was able to get ahead of the fleeing driver and crossed the median into the eastbound lanes, now facing the direction he knew the suspect vehicle was coming from.
With quick thinking, Trp. Ray stopped eastbound traffic, and began slowly driving eastbound as the suspect vehicle approached him traveling westbound. Trp. Ray knew that the next unit to be in a position on the eastbound side of the interstate was miles behind him.
Trooper Ray aimed his vehicle at the oncoming suspect and waited. He timed it perfectly, and at just the right moment, when the vehicle was passing in front of him, Trooper Ray accelerated quickly and crashed his vehicle into the front left corner of the suspect vehicle. This action forced the suspect vehicle into the median and disabled both vehicles. Trooper Ray was able to safely place the suspect into custody, and miraculously, neither he nor the suspect had any major injuries. Trooper Ray briefly had the wind knocked out of him and was very sore the next few days.
AAST would like to acknowledge and congratulate the other worthy nominees for the
2021 AAST Trooper of the Year.
Trooper Mark Bartholomew Massachusetts State Police
Trooper Michael Berrera Massachusetts State Police
Trooper Chance Berry Missouri State Highway Patrol
Trooper Jason Brindle Pennsylvania State Police
Trooper James Conway Missouri State Highway Patrol
Corporal Joshua DiGiacomo Delaware State Police
Inv. Michael Grogan New York State Police
Detective Richard Hershey New Jersey State Police
Sergeant Chaz Kennedy Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol
Officer Verna Meenan California Highway Patrol
Trooper Matthew Morice Missouri State Highway Patrol
Trooper Tyler Oliphant Tennessee Highway Patrol
Trooper James Parr Kansas Highway Patrol
Trooper Ryan Poirier Arizona Department of Public Safety
Trooper Cody Rehder Oklahoma Highway Patrol
Sergeant Jerril Ren Montana Highway Patrol
Trooper Rafael Rodriguez Nevada Highway Patrol
Trooper Horlkins Saget Florida Highway Patrol
Trooper Leonzel Shavers Texas Department of Public Safety
Trooper Timothy Shield Massachusetts State Police
Corporal Paul Volker Missouri State Highway Patrol
A presentation ceremony will take place later this year. We would like to thank SIG-SAUER our sponsor for the Trooper of the Year event along with our other marquee sponsors; AT&T FirstNET, TREMCO Police Products, MARK43 and Searcy-Denny-Scarola-Barnhart & Shipley P.A