Texas troopers’ heroism on display in new videos

State & Regional

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Newly released video from the Texas Department of Public Safety shows the pulse-pounding moments troopers jump into action, saving the lives of Texans. The videos, released as part of a request through the Public Information Act, shows two separate cases that later earned the troopers Lifesaving Awards from agency leaders.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Calvin Starkie uses the "jaws of life" to rescue a driver from a vehicle that went off the road in Feb. 2018. Starkie was presented with a Director's Citation from the agency. (Texas DPS body camera image)

In February, Newton-based Trooper Calvin Starkie responded to a one-vehicle crash, to find the SUV on its side, off the road, in a creek area difficult to access. His body camera video shows him call for back up, provide first aid to a local police officer who was hurt trying to help the injured driver, and secure the vehicle with a firefighter when help arrived.

The video shows Starkie climb onto the hood, cut out the windshield, and use the “Jaws of Life” to free the driver.

DPS director Steven McCraw presented Starkie with a Director’s Citation in August. McCraw honored five other troopers with Lifesaving Awards, including Trooper Briar Cordova, for an incident he was involved in on April 17 in Amarillo.

Cordova was on his way home, and responded to a nearby call for a woman who appeared to be suicidal, with her legs dangling from a bridge as she contemplated jumping. Two drivers stopped and got out of their cars to comfort the woman and try to help. Dashboard camera video shows Cordova arriving and teaming up with the passersby to get the woman to safety.

“We’re going to try to get her right underneath her arms and suck her straight back,” Cordova is heard saying in the video.

They successfully pulled her from the edge, and waited until backup crews came to treat the woman.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Briar Cordova and a handful of Amarillio citizens rescue a woman from jumping off a bridge in April, 2018. Cordova was presented with a Lifesaving Award from the agency. (Texas DPS dashboard camera image)

“That’s kind of why I joined the job is to make a difference, I want to make the world a better place,” Cordova said Monday. “It just makes me happy to know that I could do it and just be at the right place at the right time.”

In a statement McCraw said August’s honorees “represent the true definition of public servants who are dedicated to saving lives, protecting the public and their communities, and making Texas a safer place to call home.”

“I am honored to work alongside these members of the DPS family who exemplify our mission every day. It is truly a privilege to recognize their selfless service,” McCraw said in the statement.

Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant Robbie Barrera said troopers are trained to run toward danger while others run away.

“That’s what we are trained to do,” she said. “We are trying to save lives.”

Barrera said a combination of training, technology, and teamwork can mean the difference between life and death for Texans.

“As a Department of Public Safety state trooper we get some of the best training in the state of Texas,” she mentioned.

“Along with working in our community in building those relationships comes the ability to work together to save lives,” Barrera said. With technology… that’s the bonds that were forming with outside agencies not even in law-enforcement that has technology that we don’t have. Put that all together and that’s why you have those heroes.”

While proud of the honor from his agency, Cordova does not revel in the glory.

“I definitely would never consider myself a hero,” he explained. “I would consider myself as somebody who is just wanting to make a difference in the world, and my long goal in this world is to make this world a better place.”

He credits much of the success off that April day to the other drivers who stopped to help.

“To do it alone would have been difficult and they made the situation 100 percent better,” he said, sharing that he was proud to serve in the Amarillo community in which he was born and raised.

The other Lifesaving Awards recipients included:

  • Austin-area Special Agent Jason Ernst, who helped administer CPR to an uncionscious driver in Nov. 2017
  • Cleburne-area Trooper Natalie Wilson, who saved a driver from a car fire in Jan.
  • Eagle Pass Trooper Homer Villarreal, who pulled a kid from a pool in June
  • New Caney Trooper Ethan McAdoo, who applied a tourniquet to a shooting victim in Nov. 2017

Read the full list of the department’s August honorees on the DPS website.

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