Trooper Zachary Huckstep
Alaska Department of Public Safety
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced the selection of Trooper Zachary Huckstep of the Alaska Department of Public Safety as its Officer of the Month for March 2012.
On November 5, 2009, emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from a woman who identified herself and her location before the call went silent. As is standard procedure with an incomplete 911 call, the dispatcher made several attempts to redial the number, but each time the calls went unanswered. As a result, law enforcement authorities were dispatched to the scene and Alaska State Trooper Jack LeBlanc was first to arrive. Trooper LeBlanc continued to call the telephone number given to him by the dispatcher and banged on the door repeatedly. When all attempts failed to get a response, he called Trooper Zachary Huckstep for backup.
Upon arrival, Trooper Huckstep noticed the flicker of flames from behind one of the curtains in a first floor window. Troopers Huckstep and LeBlanc kicked in the door and found a woman lying face down, unconscious near the entryway. The troopers pulled her from the home and extinguished the blaze before the fire rescue squad made it to the scene. Then Trooper LeBlanc contacted neighbors to summon resources and determine if anyone else could be in the home, learning that the homeowner had recently given birth. At the same time, Trooper Huckstep went back into the smoke-filled residence to ensure that no one else was inside. Trooper LeBlanc rushed to tell his partner there was an infant inside the house, but luckily, Trooper Huckstep emerged from the building with the child, who he found asleep and unharmed, before Trooper LeBlanc could deliver the message.
Trooper Huckstep, the woman and her son were transported to a local hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation and later released. An investigation found that the woman had placed blankets and pillows around her fireplace in order to keep the infant away from the fire. The young mother had forgotten to remove these items after she had put the infant to bed, and subsequently, they caught fire, filling the house with smoke. Luckily, she was able to call for help but was overcome with smoke, passing out before completing the call. This case is a perfect example illustrating why law enforcement officers are routinely dispatched to 911 hang-ups and to suspicious 911 calls.
Colonel Audie Holloway of the Alaska State Troopers stated, “The initiative of Trooper Huckstep when entering the smoke filled residence prior to learning if others occupied the residence, or waiting for fire rescue, may have saved the infant from serious injury or death.”
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Trooper Huckstep, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2012, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2013 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s annual calendar.