SIKESTON, Mo. -- The motto of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is "Service and Protection." On Thursday, the Patrol honored not their own but three citizens for the service they rendered.
Capt. George E. Ridens, commanding officer of Troop E, presented Larry Thresher of East Prairie, Mo., with an Honorary Trooper certificate and Bill E. White of East Prairie with a Certificate of Appreciation for their actions June 21. Ronald D. Pipkin of New Madrid, Mo., was unable to attend the ceremony but was also honored by the patrol as an Honorary Trooper.
The men were cited for their attempt to save a woman following a traffic accident. According to Ridens, during a one-vehicle crash on New Madrid County Route P along the St. John's Bayou, the woman's vehicle traveled off the road, sliding into the floodwaters.
Thresher and White, who were farming land nearby, said they saw the vehicle being swept along by the current. After calling 9-1-1, they went into the water in an attempt to save the vehicle's occupant.
"Anytime I see someone in trouble I stop," White said. He added with a smile and a shake of his head, "I think the good Lord takes care of idiots."
Thresher was able to swim to the vehicle, which was sinking. "It was murky and it was swift," Thresher said about the water.
Thresher couldn't open its doors, he said but saw the driver was slumped over the wheel and not responding to repeated attempts to get her attention.
Pipkin then came on the scene and was able to swim to the vehicle with a tool and the men broke open the vehicle's sunroof. Pipkin cut the woman out of her seatbelt.
Assisted by troopers Chris Hamlett and James Cooksey, the men brought the woman to the shore. White assisted in getting her on the bank.
The troopers then began CPR.
"I thought we had saved her and I thanked God, but it didn't work out like that," Thresher said. He said authorities told them the woman had probably died from the impact of the crash.
Hamlett recommended the men receive the recognition from the patrol.
According to Ridens, such honors are rarely awarded. He estimated that in his eight years with Troop E, he has been part of such a ceremony only three times.
"It seems like to me a lot of people don't want to get involved. It takes someone willing to help, to go above and beyond," he said about the three men. "I'm very happy we still have citizens in the state of Missouri who are willing to put themselves out there and help others."