Troopers rescue man stuck in swamp because, well, New Jersey
Getting swallowed by a swamp on the side of the turnpike would have been a uniquely Jersey way to go. Authorities say state troopers rescued a man stranded and freezing waist-deep in the marsh along the highway's shoulder in Elizabeth last weekend. It's nothing unusual for an officer on patrol to find someone standing on the shoulder with their hazard lights flashing, but when Trooper Victor Rios pulled over at 4:43 a.m on St. Patrick's Day, he could hardly believe his ears. "My cousin's stuck in the swamp," the man told him, according to dashboard video released by the State Police on Friday. What? "My cousin is stuck inside the swamp." How? The victim had unwittingly waded into the muck near mile marker 102.3 in Elizabeth while trying to walk toward a friend's disabled vehicle on the other side of the marsh, according one of the troopers at the scene. It was a crisis right out of Bruce Springsteen's "Rosalita" -- "out stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey" -- made all the more dangerous by the frigid March night. The man, whom police did not identify, did not realize how deep the mud was until his feet "became entrenched" halfway through his ill-fated shortcut, according to the State Police. Trooper Reinaldo Cruz said that when he arrived to assist Rios, the scene was so dark he had to point his troop car toward the swamp and turn on a spotlight in order to see the victim trapped in the muck. "It's as if it was quicksand or cement," Cruz told NJ Advance Media in an interview Friday. "He was already above waist-high." The troopers spent half an hour making increasingly elaborate attempts to pull the man to safety. Rios and Cruz first took a large tree branch and extended it toward him, but the man was already in the throes of hypothermia and was too weak to grab on, police said. More troopers arrived and attempted to make a human chain but were unable to reach the man. Eventually another trooper, Renato Antunese, grabbed a lifeguard buoy and rope from his car and threw it toward the victim, who wrapped it around himself. The video shows at least seven troopers pulling the yellow rope from the marsh back onto the highway's shoulder and draping the man in an emergency blanket. He was taken to Trinitas Emergency Medical Center, where he was treated and later released, police said. Cruz said he's seen a lot in his five years patrolling the turnpike, but the incident was his first roadside swamp rescue. "You're never going to think with freezing temperatures that you're going to have someone that will even entertain the idea of entering the water," he said.
Thirty-five new troopers graduate from Louisiana State Police
Friday, March 23, Louisiana State Police announced the graduation of its 97th Cadet Class. A total of 35 people graduated from the Louisiana State Police Training Academy in Baton Rouge. On November 5, 2017, 49 Cadets from across the state began their 20-week journey through the Louisiana State Police Training Academy. Throughout the academy, Cadets received training in various subjects including crash investigation, emergency vehicle operations, impaired driving detection, traffic incident management, and leadership in addition to a rigorous physical training regimen. Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow Troopers, 35 of those Cadets reached their goal this morning of receiving the gold boot badge of the Louisiana State Police. These new troopers now will be assigned to troops across the state, where they will undergo a 10 to 14 week field training program under the supervision of a senior trooper.
North Dakota Highway Patrol leader announces retirement
The superintendent of the North Dakota Highway Patrol will retire this summer. Col. Michael Gerhart Jr. announced Thursday, March 22, that he’ll retire from the position effective June 30. He’ll then become the executive vice president of advocacy organization the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve our citizens and honored to work with a team of professionals committed to making a difference every day by providing high quality law enforcement services to keep North Dakota safe and secure,” he said in a written statement. “It’s been a very rewarding career.” Gerhart started as a Highway Patrol trooper in 1992. He was promoted to sergeant in 2004, lieutenant in 2007 and major in 2011. He’s served as superintendent since he was appointed to the position by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple in July 2014. Gerhart was reappointed by Gov. Doug Burgum in December 2016. The next superintendent will be appointed before Gerhart retires, according to a news release from Burgum’s office.
Washington State trooper jumps into Sammamish River to save suicidal man
A Washington State Patrol trooper jumped into the Sammamish River on Wednesday night and pulled a suicidal man to safety. The State Patrol says Trooper Kevin Thomson responded to a report after 6:30 p.m. about a man who was trying to get into vehicles along state Route 202 near Northeast 145th Street in Woodinville. Thomson found the man and was guiding him off the road and off an overpass that spans the Sammamish River, the State Patrol says. Then the man broke away and jumped from the overpass to the river 30 feet below. Thomson ran down the embankment, jumped into the river and pulled the man from the river and up the embankment. The trooper administered first aid to the man, who was bleeding from his head, until firefighters arrived. The man, a 20-year-old from Lynnwood, was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he is expected to undergo a mental health evaluation.