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Game Wardens honored for life-saving efforts
TPWD’s Law Enforcement Division annual awards presented
AUSTIN – Whether for getting two kayak fishermen out of harm’s way during a sniper attack, rescuing motorists stranded in a Christmas Eve blizzard in North Texas or simply for doing an excellent job for the people of Texas, thirty-nine Texas Parks and Wildlife employees, two Department of Public Safety officers and one county sheriff were honored Monday during TPWD’s 6th annual Law Enforcement Division Awards Ceremony.
Lauding those who have given “so generously, so quietly and so humbly,” over the last year, TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith presented the awards before a standing room only crowd at TPWD Headquarters.
Receiving director’s citations were: Game Wardens Kevin Mitchell and Nicole Spatz, for their April 27 role in rescuing two kayak fishermen under rifle fire on the Nueces River; Capts. Pat Canan and Neal Bieler, along with Game Wardens Luett McMahen, Eddie Hood, Jason Jones, Chris Dowdy, Cliff Swofford, Randolph McGee, Jim Ballard, David Solis, John Padgett, Glenn Raborn and David Benoit for rescuing numerous stranded motorists during a Christmas Eve snow storm in the Wichita Falls area; and Game Warden Braxton Harris, for rescuing a potential suicide victim on Lady Bird Lake in Austin on Feb. 21.
Also receiving director’s citations were Asst. Chief Gary Teeler, Law Enforcement Division Purchaser Pam Stoikes (she received a director’s award), Capt. Ken Baker and Game Warden Vu Bang Nguyen for their efforts in securing a fleet of new 29-foot SAFE boats for the department. The Washington State-built vessels, which can travel up to 60 miles an hour, are stationed along the coast and at Amistad and Falcon lakes on the border.
Receiving director’s life saving citations were: Game Wardens Justin Valchar, Brandt Bernstein and Billy Champlin for pulling a boater from the frigid waters of Lake Belton Jan. 22; Game Wardens Raborn and Benoit (also honored for their work during the late 2009 snow storm) for rescuing a 90-year-old man who had fallen overboard in Lake Lewisville March 4; Game Wardens Brent Satsky and Jake Scott, who saved the driver of a van swept away by flood waters in Comal Creek last Oct. 4; and Game Warden Ronnie Langford, who executed the Heimlich maneuver and prevented his brother-in-law from choking to death at the family’s Christmas dinner.
Others honored include Game Wardens Drew Spencer, Royce Ilse and Will Hellums, for saving four persons whose pickup went into the Rio Grande last Dec. 12; Game Wardens Stormy King and David Nieto for rescuing one of two men who had been washed from their truck during flooding in Jim Wells County April 16; and Game Warden Brent Isom, who worked with DPS Cpl. Bryan Little and Young County Sheriff Bryan Walls in saving three women whose car had washed off the road April 18 during severe flooding on the Brazos River. (Little and Walls received director’s awards.)
Also receiving director’s awards were Fleet Manager Scott Snyder and radio technicians Vernon Miears, John Wyatt, Shawn Lange and Chris Hornyak for their role in outfitting the department’s state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle; graphics designer Suzanne Davis for her work on the TPWD Outdoor Annual and other projects; and graphics designer Sonia Yeck for designing the color scheme for the new mobile command vehicle and the Operation Game Thief “Wall of Shame” trailer.
Finally, Capts. Joe Carter and Chris Davis of Internal Affairs and Texas Ranger Sgt. Ricardo “Rick” Rivera received director’s awards for their work in the quick arrest of a man accused of threatening a South Texas game warden July 23.
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