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Texas Game Wardens Honored at Annual Law Enforcement Awards

Katy Schaffer, 512-389-8046,

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AUSTIN – This morning, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith honored several men and women for their outstanding acts of service at the 12th annual Law Enforcement Division Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony recognized Texas game wardens, non-commissioned TPWD employees, first responders from other agencies and members of the general public.

“We are extremely proud of our game wardens, our fellow first responders and members of the public who exemplify professionalism and service by assisting our citizens,” said TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Craig Hunter. “Our game wardens routinely respond during highly stressful situations and are often times the first to arrive during natural disasters or search and rescue scenarios.”

The awards also recognized Kevin Russell and his band Shinyribs for writing and performing the original theme song, “Our Game,” for Lone Star Law, the television show featuring Texas game wardens premiering on Animal Planet this June.

This year’s award recipients include those first-responders to the 2015 floods whose bold efforts resulted in lives saved. Other awardees participated in valuable outreach activities and rescues of stranded and injured boaters. The awards also recognize support staff, who provided valuable assistance to law enforcement activities throughout last year.

Awardees are listed below.

The Director’s Meritorious Service Award

This award honors any employee of the law enforcement division who has demonstrated exceptional command or leadership for an extremely difficult project or task that was highly successful or brought great recognition to the law enforcement division or agency.

Operation Strong Safety Surge 59 members and Forensics Reconstruction and Mapping Team Members

For their work in investigating a watercraft collision between a U.S. Border Patrol vessel and a Mexican national’s boat.

Director’s Awards

These awards are presented to private citizens, first responders from other agencies and TPWD personnel who assisted in Texas game wardens’ life-saving efforts.

Jacob Boaz

Bastrop fireman and swift water technician who assisted Texas Game Wardens with the rescue of nearly 40 residents during the Halloween 2015 floods in Bastrop and Travis counties.

Luis Canales

TPWD park police officer who assisted Game Warden Brad Whitworth with the rescue of three individuals, all of whom could not swim, from a capsized vessel in high winds and oversized waves.

Martha McLeod

Youth outreach volunteer for Texas Game Wardens.

Brian McDaniel

Commercial fisherman who rescued three stranded boaters.

Richard Flood

Bosque County Sheriff’s Deputy who assisted Game Warden Matthew Bridgefarmer in rescuing two fishermen from their sinking boat.

Stephen Horn

Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy who was first to respond to a victim in cardiac arrest. Along with Game Warden Randall Brown, Horn administered CPR until emergency medical services arrived.

Vance and Emily Smith

Private citizens who assisted with rescue efforts during the May 2015 floods.

Houston Law Enforcement Communications

For their dedication to serving Texans by providing quality customer service during emergencies.

Kevin Russell and Shinyribs

Director’s Citations

These awards recognize support staff for their years of service to the law enforcement division.

Leo Villa

Region 8 Boat Mate – motor vehicle technician.

Chris Heyse

Region 8 Boat Mate – motor vehicle technician.

Director’s Life Saving Citations

These awards are presented to game wardens whose search and rescue efforts saved lives.

Matt Waggoner and David Pellizzari (Palo Pinto County)

Rescued an elderly couple from rising floodwaters in the May 2015 floods.

Luett McMahen and Tyler Reed (Wichita County)

Rescued an elderly couple from their vehicle, which had been swept off the road during the May 2015 floods.

Chris Dowdy (Wise County)

Rescued a father and son stranded in floodwaters.

Colt Gaulden (Coryell County) & Michael Hummert (Grayson County)

Provided life-saving first aid to a victim who had jumped into shallow waters and broken his neck.

Matthew Bridgefarmer (Bosque County)

Rescued two fishermen from their sinking inflatable raft.

Jon Kocian (Victoria County)

Rescued two women from swift currents after their kayak overturned.

Michael Hoffman (Dewitt County)

Rescued two men clinging to trees in the Guadalupe River after flooding caused the river to rise and their canoe to capsize.

Jamie Sanchez (Dallas County)

Rescued family from burning boat and steered boat away from other watercraft in the harbor.

Brad Whitworth (Starr County)

Rescued three individuals, all of whom could not swim, from a capsized vessel in high winds and oversized waves.

Trent Herchman and Grant Moore (Van Zandt County)

Rescued a man clinging to a tree in rising floodwaters. The man’s truck had been swept off the road.

Randall Brown (Mason County)

Administered CPR to a victim in cardiac arrest until emergency medical services arrived.