by Alan McArthur
Two local men were awarded the Missouri Medal of Valor on Thursday. Frederick Guthrie, officer with the Missouri State Water Patrol, and Daniel Romig, civilian officer with the Platte County Sheriff's Department, were given the award at the Platte County Administration Building.
Matt Blunt, Missouri governor, gave the first ever awards to the two men to honor them for their bravery. The medal of valor award was created this year and Guthrie, a Platte City resident, and Romig are two of the four to receive the award in its first year.
“The men and women of Missouri's public safety communities put their lives on the line every day to protect our loved ones,” said Blunt. “Today we honor four outstanding Missourians for their commitment to duty and honor, and for protecting their fellow citizens in a manner that is above and beyond the call of duty.”
Blunt outlined the reasons why the two men were chosen for the medal.
Guthrie was on patrol on Smithville Lake during a severe thunderstorm on June 22, 2007 to investigate reports of capsized or swamped boats near the Route W Bridge.
Six foot waves on the lake were too much for Guthrie's standard patrol boat to handle and forced him to return to the marina. Before returning to the marina Guthrie learned a woman was not wearing a life jacket and had been thrown from her boat and was clinging to a buoy.
Guthrie turned the boat around and navigated the water to save the woman.
On a day off, on Aug. 15, 2007, Romig was traveling along I-435 Highway in Kansas when he witnessed a wreck near Metropolitan Avenue.
A 17-year-old driver had struck a semi-truck and caused the semi to go over the guardrail of the bridge and strike the embankment below. The truck overturned and the driver, Richard Anglan, 40, of Silver City, Iowa, was thrown from the vehicle.
“It was like a bad movie, I saw the truck go airborne and saw it impact the ground on the other side of the bridge,” said Romig, during an interview with The Landmark last year. “The truck pretty much disintegrated and I could see the guy laying in the wreck as parts of the truck were beginning to burn.”
Romig stopped his vehicle and ran to help the driver who was not moving.
“I didn't think much about it, I just saw a guy laying there and I figured I needed to get him out of (the truck),” said Romig. “He wasn't conscious when I got to him, but I dragged him out, we got about 5 to 10 feet out and by that time he was already pretty bad off.”
Anglan was later airlifted to a nearby hospital, but died of injuries he received in the accident.
In the process of pulling Anglan from the wreckage, Romig received first and second degree burns on his arms and had to be taken to KU Medical Hospital for treatment.
Romig was kept from working at the county detention center for several weeks because of his injuries. Today, Romig has returned to work and almost fully recovered from the incident.
Even though he sustained burns during the rescue, Romig said he would do it again if the situation arose.
“All I was thinking about was trying to get him out at the time,” said Romig. “Nothing prepares you for that kind of thing, it's just a reaction. It's just something you do. I just hope that someone else would do the same for me if it were reversed.”
Romig said on Thursday that he still enjoys his job and that he is really honored to receive the award.
The other two officers receiving the medal of valor this year were Carl Beier, deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, and Grant Hendrix, Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper.
To be awarded the Medal of Valor an officer must be nominated and then selected by the Missouri Medal of Valor Review Board, made up of 11 members. The award is given to officers who exhibit “exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.”