Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Purple Heart

Thankfully, we don't give out many Purple Heart awards, but we did so last week to a very deserving person: Officer Keli Theison. She is pictured above with Deputy Chief Cy Ritter. She received a standing ovation from everyone at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting when she accepted the Purple Heart. Here's what happened that earned her the medal:

March 29, 2009, was an unusually cold day, and eastbound I-470 was beginning to ice up near View High Drive.

The ice snuck up on drivers, and one got in a non-injury accident at that location at about 8 a.m. Officers Keli Theison and Kris Crawford responded to the scene. The sun was shining brightly, making it difficult for drivers to see. While the officers were at the scene of the initial accident, a second driver lost control of his car and struck the median. It was now apparent that the roads were dangerous, and the officers didn’t want anyone involved in the accidents getting out of their cars for safety reasons. As the driver in the second crash tried to get out, Officer Theison stepped toward her to tell her to remain in her car. One witness said, “She was next to me and she was just trying to help us.” Unfortunately, another car driving on 470 lost control, struck a Motorist Assist Truck, and then struck Officer Theison.

Witnesses said Officer Theison flew about 30 feet when she was hit. Officer Crawford rushed to her side, determined her condition and radioed for help. He relayed information about the bad road conditions and positioned emergency response vehicles to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

Officer Theison suffered life-threatening injuries, including head trauma, multiple broken ribs and lacerations. She spent nearly one month in the hospital and returned to limited duty at South Patrol Division on September 8, 2009. She is undergoing physical therapy and is expected to return to full duty. (In case you were wondering, officers are not allowed to wear uniforms until they have been cleared for full duty, which is why Officer Theison is in civilian clothes in the picture.)
One man who was involved in one of the accidents that day was so grateful to Officer Theison that he came to the hospital with flowers to thank her.

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