The Indiana State Police Department held an awards and recognition ceremony in Indianapolis Friday. Eleven people from around the state, were honored for their dedication to service, bravery, devotion to the department and the citizens of Indiana. Two local troopers, Sergeant Rich Kelly and Trooper Dustin Rutledge were recognized with the Indiana State Police Silver Star Award.
The Indiana State Police Silver Star is awarded to a police employee who performed in a distinguished manner beyond reasonable expectations. The act was intelligently performed and was one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous that it clearly distinguished the employee but did not have the risk of serious injury or loss of life to the recipient.
Sergeant Rich Kelly, a 23 year veteran of the Indiana State Police, received the Indiana State Police Silver Star Award for his actions on June 6, 2017, while on a family vacation in Florida. Kelly and his family were enjoying a day at the beach in Navarre Beach, Florida, when a group of adults and children entered the ocean despite flags indicating dangerous sea conditions and marine life.
A few minutes later, as the Kelly family was preparing to leave the beach, Kelly’s wife noticed two boys, approximately 10-years-of-age, in the water yelling for help. The boys were approximately 200 yards off shore and no one in their group heard their pleas for help. Kelly grabbed a flotation device, from a vacant lifeguard stand, and entered the water to retrieve the boys. As Sergeant Kelly was swimming towards the boys, his wife made contact with two local sheriff’s deputies who contacted a water rescue team.
While swimming to the boys, Kelly encountered surf estimated at approximately six feet which pushed the trooper underwater, causing him to fear that he might drown. After resurfacing, Kelly was able to grab one of the boys. Due to the very rough surf conditions, Kelly could not see the second boy.. He swam back to shore with the first boy. Sergeant Kelly was too exhausted to go back for the second boy. He was giving the flotation device to a male adult, in the boys’ group, when a firemen on a jet ski arrived and retrieved the second boy.
Sergeant Kelly is assigned to the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. He resides in Clinton County with his family.
Trooper Dustin Rutledge, a two and a half year veteran of the Indiana State Police, received the Indiana State Police Silver Star for his actions on July 7, 2017. On that date, Rutledge responded to the dispatch of a partially submerged car on a rural Wabash County road. When Rutledge arrived, he found a Chevrolet Cobalt, partially submerged in rushing water, and occupied by 60 year-old Daniel Winters. There had been heavy downpours of rain in the area, which caused the nearby Paw Paw Creek to flood and contribute to the rushing water and flooding.
Trooper Rutledge entered the rushing water, armed with life jackets, provided by a conservation officer. Other first responders had secured a safety line to a fire truck and to Trooper Rutledge. Firefighters, a conservation officer, and Wabash County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Ryggs manned the safety line while Trooper Rutledge made his way through the water to the Cobalt.
When Rutledge arrived at the car, he saw water up to the steering wheel. While speaking with Winters, Rutledge quickly realized the man was cold and his manual dexterity was poor. Winters’ arms and legs were weak. Rutledge was able to put a life jacket on Winters and secure him to a safety line. While Rutledge was pulling Winters from the Cobalt, the safety line secured to Winters broke. Winters was unable to stand, so Trooper Rutledge had to drag him to dry land. Ryggs, and firefighters assisted in getting Winters to a fire truck. Winters was treated and released at the scene by Roann paramedics.
Trooper Rutledge is assigned to the Indiana State Police Peru Post. He lives and patrols primarily in Wabash County.
Trooper Rutledge and Sergeant Kelly are both natives of Frankfort.
“These officers’ actions and dedication to duty are in keeping with the finest traditions of law enforcement,” stated Major Ed Schroder, commander of the Indiana State Police North Zone. “Their actions reflect great credit upon themselves and the Indiana State Police”