Game Commission Employee Also Honored for Life-Saving Effort
June 18, 2008
HERSHEY – State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller today presented the State Police Medal of Honor to two troopers who pulled an injured and unconscious fellow trooper from his burning patrol vehicle in Luzerne County, and to a trooper who dragged a man from a burning house in Blair County.
“The Medal of Honor, which is the department’s highest award, is presented in recognition of conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty and at the imminent risk of life,” Miller said during a ceremony at the State Police Academy here. “These recipients exemplify the highest standards of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
The Medal of Honor winners are Tprs. William Gross, 39, and Robert R. Rogers, 40, both of Troop P, Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, and Tpr. Charles T. Wilt, 48, of Troop G, Hollidaysburg, Blair County.
In addition, the department presented an Outstanding Citizenship Award to Dennis Dobinick, a radio dispatcher in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s northeast regional office in Dallas, Luzerne County, who assisted the troopers at the Luzerne County incident.
Miller said the May 20, 2007, incident began when Gross and Rogers were driving their patrol cars south on Rt. 29 in pursuit of a vehicle that had been involved in a hit-and-run crash in Wyoming County. At the same time, Tpr. Truman Brandt of Troop P, Wyoming, Luzerne County, was responding to the incident and driving his patrol car north on Rt. 29.
“The fleeing southbound vehicle with two occupants went out of control on a curve in Luzerne County and crashed into Brandt’s car,” Miller said. “Both vehicles burst into flames.”
Gross and Rogers pulled the injured and unconscious Brandt from his vehicle with the assistance of Dobinick, who had come upon the scene in his vehicle, Miller said.
He said that despite repeated efforts, Gross and Rogers were unable to extricate the driver of the other vehicle before he died in the flames. The passenger in that vehicle had been partially ejected in the crash and also died at the scene, according to police reports.
“Had it not been for the heroic actions of Tprs. Gross and Rogers and Mr. Dobinick, Tpr. Brandt certainly would have died as a result of the fiery crash,” said Miller, who presented the State Police Purple Heart award to Brandt during the ceremony.
Miller said Wilt was honored for his efforts at the scene of a standoff with a suicidal man at a home in Roaring Spring, Blair County, on Oct. 21, 2007.
Troopers were in cell phone contact with the man, who was armed with a pistol, when they heard a gunshot and saw smoke coming from the home, according to reports.
After several attempts, Wilt gained entry to the house and saw the man on the floor, Miller said. Wilt was forced out of the home once by heat and smoke, but returned and pulled the man out of the building with the assistance of another trooper.
Miller said investigators later determined that the victim had set fire to model airplane fuel he poured throughout the residence and then shot himself.
“Although the victim died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Tpr. Wilt’s selfless and heroic actions demonstrated his commitment and dedication to duty,” Miller said.
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