Four area law enforcement officers were recognized at the Pottawatomie County courthouse Friday with citations for bravery and heroism for their roles in help saving a trooper’s life when a plane crashed in Pottawatomie County.
It was the evening of July 26 when Trooper Dennis Dickens, flying an Oklahoma Highway Patrol single-engine aircraft, was in the area of SH 9 and Bethel Road to assist the task force in a manhunt.
As the pilot whistled and pointed from the air to the location of the suspect, the plane, about 80 feet off the ground, had some type of mechanical problem and crashed in a pasture.
Honored Friday for acts of bravery and heroism that day were Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Holasek, Shawnee Police Cpl. David Carpenter, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Major Jody Opela and Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Lee.
Sen. Ron Sharp introduced the group and said the day was about honoring them for their courage and service.
“I cannot tell you how much our nation needs to honor our brave,” Sharp said.
Sheriff Mike Booth summarized the events of that day, which also was echoed when Rep. Josh Cockroft read aloud the citations.
“As we recognize these men today for bravery, I want to recognize their families and the families of all men and women in law enforcement,” Booth said, adding the support and understanding of families help all of them do better jobs.
“We all know when we pin on a badge, strap on a gun and walk out the door, we all face challenges that may be dangerous,” Booth said. “Law enforcement is a way of life — not just another paycheck. We have a bond of brotherhood with the badge. We watch each other’s back and make sure our brothers and sisters get home at the end of their shift.”
Booth explained what happened that day as those assigned to District 23 task force were searching an area for suspect.
Holasek was about 200 yards away from the plane went down and ran to the crash site, where he found the trooper a few feet away from the burning plane. He pulled the injured trooper about eight feet before being overcome by smoke and fumes from the wreckage, Booth said.
Without hesitation, Booth said Carpenter and Opela arrived and carried Trooper Dickens about 35 feet to safety.
As all that was unfolding, Deputy Lee also was involved and was responsible for getting the suspect in custody.
Cockroft, who said they wanted to recognize the bravery and courage of the officers, read aloud the State of Oklahoma citation, which was signed by local senators and representatives. All four received a standing ovation in the packed courtroom.
Page 2 of 2 - While all appeared humble about the honor, none made any comments but were congratulated by many.
Previously, Holasek talked about how he believes the trooper, by leveling out the plane before it went down, contributed to his own survival, which in turn helped them rescue him from the site.
Opela, who also was honored during CPN ceremony last week, said they knew they had to get the trooper out of that area fast, with Opela saying they all worked together as a team.
Several legislators, city and county officials, area law enforcement officers as well as OHP troopers were among those attending.
Trooper Dickens has reportedly been released from the hospital to continue his recovery at home.