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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 14, 2008

Sen. Laster reaches for the microphone as the Senate honors members of the Highway Patrol.
Sen. Laster reaches for the microphone as the Senate honors members of the Highway Patrol.

Senate Salutes Highway Patrol Troopers

Members of the State Senate paid tribute to Oklahoma’s Trooper of the Year Award winners for 2007, which included state troopers who risked their own lives to perform a daring helicopter rescue of a Kingfisher couple. Sen. Charles Laster authored legislation honoring Lt. Brian Sturgill and Trooper Joe Howard for their bravery.

Howard, from Shawnee, and Sturgill, from Harrah, both live in the Senator’s district, but the Shawnee Democrat said their heroism had been a source of pride for the entire state. Laster also praised Kingfisher Fire Chief Randy Poindexter, who was with Howard and Sturgill during the helicopter rescue.

“These men could easily have lost their own lives. The conditions were extremely dangerous, and the helicopter was not even designed for rescues, but they were determined to save this couple from the deadly flood waters,” Laster said. “They truly are heroes.”

Last August, Hurricane Erin moved inland, causing the flood waters that submerged the truck Bernice and Leroy Krittenbrink were driving. Their daughter in Utah and much of the nation watched on TV as the Highway Patrol helicopter navigated the swirling waters, submerged trees, and floating debris to rescue the couple. Both victims were too exhausted to hang on to the skids and fell off during the first attempt, but the men repositioned the helicopter and attempted a second rescue which was successful.

“Just this morning on my way into the State Capitol I saw a trooper stop and help an elderly gentleman change a flat tire—a small act of kindness and heroism that is repeated daily by the fine women and men of our Highway Patrol,” Laster said. “Lt. Sturgill and Trooper Howard epitomize that heroism, and we salute them for their public service.”

For more information contact:
Sen. Laster's Office:  (405) 521-5539

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