Troopers Decorated For Heroic Acts
South Charleston, West Virginia – On Friday, March 2, 2012, at 10:00am, at the West Virginia State Police Headquarters (725 Jefferson Road, South Charleston, West Virginia), Colonel C. R. “Jay” Smithers will present six Troopers with awards and commendations. The media is invited to attend this ceremony and will be given the opportunity to conduct limited interviews. The following Troopers will be honored:
Corporal Andrew Pringle (Harrisville Detachment) – Purple Heart Award
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, Corporal Andrew M. Pringle was conducting a traffic stop, while training Trooper Gary P. Honaker along West Virginia Route 47, in the southern part of Ritchie County West Virginia. Corporal Pringle, who had stopped the motorist on suspicion he was driving under the influence of alcohol, was preparing to demonstrate a series of field sobriety tests to Trooper Honaker and returned to his cruiser to retrieve a preliminary breath-testing device to aid the officers in the investigation. As he opened the driver's side door to his cruiser, he was struck by a drunk driver traveling east on West Virginia Route 47. The impact threw Corporal Pringle into the side of his cruiser and then over the hood of the patrol car. Corporal Pringle's body collided with Trooper Honaker, and both officers slammed into the pavement. Corporal Pringle was injured to such a degree he was not given a significant chance of surviving. Through faith, courage and determination and through the support of his family, friends and colleagues, Corporal Pringle not only survived this horrific event, but also fought for many months to recover from his injuries and return to service with the West Virginia State Police. His return to the Harrisville Detachment is an inspiration to the West Virginia State Police family and the Ritchie County community. Corporal Pringle has distinguished himself through his actions and determination and has met this adversity with feverish vigor and perseverance not uncommon with his character and the character of a West Virginia State Trooper.
Trooper Gary Honaker (Harrisville Detachment) – Medal for Lifesaving
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, Trooper Gary P. Honaker was conducting a traffic stop with his Field Training Officer, Corporal Andrew M. Pringle, along WV Route 47, in the southern part of Ritchie County West Virginia on suspicion the driver was operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. During the traffic stop, Corporal Pringle was struck by a drunk driver as he returned to his cruiser to retrieve a preliminary breath-testing device to aid the officers in their investigation. The impact threw Corporal Pringle into the side of his cruiser and then over the hood. Corporal Pringle's body collided with Trooper Honaker, and both officers slammed into the pavement. Corporal Pringle was critically injured as a result of the incident. Trooper Honaker sustained a concussion, and was stunned by the impact. Fortunately, his injuries did not prevent him from utilizing the police radio to call for help. Trooper Honaker also rendered aid to Corporal Pringle, and remained with him until emergency help arrived. Corporal Pringle's injuries were so significant that he would not have survived without swift, immediate medical intervention and the aid provided to him by Trooper Honaker who acted to save and preserve Corporal Pringle's life. Trooper Honaker’s actions, on his third day of field duty with the West Virginia State Police, are in excess of any reasonable expectations of a new West Virginia State Trooper, with little to no experience or field training. Trooper Honaker distinguished himself through his actions, acts of heroism and bravery, which are consistent with the expectations of a West Virginia State Trooper and all law enforcement professionals.
Trooper First Class Joseph Finnicum (Special Operations) – Meritorious Service Medal
February 18, 2010 Trooper First Class Joseph M. Finnicum responded to domestic violence incident near Jerry’s Run Road in Mason County West Virginia that involved the abduction of Becky McQueen by her estranged husband Troy McQueen who was holding the victim at gunpoint and threatening to shoot her with a shotgun. Trooper First Class Finnicum responded immediately to assist the Mason County Sheriff Department. Upon arriving at the intersection of Jerry’s Run Road and Route 2, Trooper First Class Finnicum was briefed by the officers present at the intersection Mr. McQueen had abducted Mrs. McQueen and was indeed holding her at gunpoint in a white Chrysler Pacifica. It was during this time the Chrysler, driven by Mrs. McQueen with Mr. McQueen in the passenger seat approached the officers’ location. Shortly after the vehicle came to a stop, Trooper First Class Finnicum left cover, advancing toward the vehicle as Mr. McQueen shot Mrs. McQueen as she attempted to escape. As Mr. McQueen attempted to shoot Mrs. McQueen as second time, Trooper First Class Finnicum shot Mr. McQueen with an AR-15 rifle, fatally wounding him and saving Mrs. McQueen’s life. Despite grave danger to himself, Trooper First Class Finnicum confronted Mr. McQueen to save Mrs. McQueen’s life in a manner consistent with the meritorious conduct of a West Virginia State Trooper.
Corporal Douglas Starcher (Elizabeth Detachment) – Meritorious Service Medal
On August 11, 2010, at 4:50 p.m. Corporal Douglas P. Starcher was notified that a man armed with a rifle was outside the State Police Detachment in Elizabeth, Wirt County West Virginia and was firing the rifle at the locked detachment. While en route to the detachment, Corporal Starcher learned the man had kidnapped and possibly shot a UPS driver. The gunman was believed to be inside the UPS truck, which was parked in front of the detachment. Corporal Starcher arrived at the detachment shortly after Wirt County Sheriff D. K. Wilson Jr. As the Sheriff approached the rear driver's side of the UPS truck, Corporal Starcher cautiously approached at a wide angle on the passenger side of the vehicle. At that time, Corporal Starcher observed the man holding a rifle and looking toward the Sheriff. As the gunman raised his rifle to fire at Sheriff Wilson, Corporal Starcher fired two shots from his AR-15 Rifle, fatally wounding the suspect in order to protect the life of Sheriff Wilson and the UPS driver. The investigation revealed the mentally unstable suspect was intoxicated and had kidnapped the UPS driver at gunpoint in an adjacent county, forcing the driver to take the suspect to the State Police Detachment in Elizabeth. Though faced with imminent danger by approaching a man armed with a rifle who was believed to have already shot one person, Corporal Starcher acted in a manner consistent with the high standards of a West Virginia State Trooper with exemplary courage without regard to his own safety while protecting the lives of innocent victims and other officers.
Sergeant Christopher Kane (Gilbert Detachment) – Medal of Valor
On Wednesday, March 02, 2011, Sergeant Christopher F. Kane, was dispatched to a vehicle crash into the Guyandotte River along Secondary Route 80 at Verner, Mingo County West Virginia. Upon arrival, Sergeant Kane observed a backhoe in the Guyandotte River with 91-year-old Opal Perry stranded inside the cab that was filled with water above Mr. Perry's head. Sergeant Kane also observed Chief Alan Toler of the Wharncliffe Volunteer Fire Department already in the water attempting to rescue Mr. Perry. Sergeant Kane selflessly made a decision to enter the flood-swollen river with swift currents, extremely cold-water temperature and harsh weather conditions to assist Chief Toler in an attempt to rescue Mr. Perry despite great personal risk to himself. Eventually, help arrived and with the assistance of the Logan County Swift Water Rescue Team, Sergeant Kane and Chief Toler were able to remove Mr. Perry from the flood-swollen Guyandotte River. Sergeant Kane, who had been in the water for nearly an hour and a half, was treated by paramedics for hypothermia. Unfortunately, Mr. Perry later succumbed to the cold floodwater and died from hypothermia and traumatic cardiac arrest despite the best efforts of his rescuers. Sergeant Kane’s actions exemplify the proud tradition of the West Virginia State Police and its Troopers who perform valiantly in times of great danger while attempting to save the life of another human being.
Sergeant Gregory Stalnaker (Elkins Detachment) – Medal of Valor
On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, Sergeant Gregory L. Stalnaker assisted the United States Marshal Service at Elkins, Randolph County West Virginia with the execution of a search and arrest warrant at the residence of Charles Edward Smith, wanted for possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine and possession of firearms while being an unlawful drug user. After breaching the front door of Mr. Smith’s residence, United States Marshal J. D. Hare, III entered the residence followed by United States Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller and then Sergeant Stalnaker. Once the officers were inside the residence, Mr. Smith fired two shots from a twelve-gauge shotgun at the officers. One of the blasts struck Marshal Hotsinpiller in the neck. As Marshal Hotsinpiller fell to the ground, Mr. Smith continued to fire down the hallway at Sergeant Stalnaker and two other United States Marshals who were on the porch of the residence. Sergeant Stalnaker stood his ground and returned fire on Mr. Smith, fatally wounding him, thus ending the incident. If not for the brave actions of Sergeant Stalnaker, it is almost certain other officers may have died. Although United States Marshal Hotsinpiller succumbed to his injuries, Sergeant Stalnaker’s actions made it possible to remove Marshal Hotsinpiller from the residence, while protecting the lives of the other officers who came under attack.
Any questions or requests for interviews should be directed to Sergeant Michael Baylous at 304-746-2198.
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Sergeant Michael Baylous at 304-746-2198