Three Jasper County law enforcement officers were honored in a ceremony at the State Capitol on Tuesday. The three officers were bestowed the Sullivan Brother’s Award of Valor in a ceremony led by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Larry Noble and attended by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Officer Joe Bartello of the Baxter Police Department, Deputy Jeremy Burdess of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Officer Adam Herman, formerly of the Newton Police Department, were recognized for their role in a rescue operation on May 30.
On May 30, during a period of rampant flooding in the county, a call was made notifying dispatchers of signs of a wreck on Interstate 80, east of the Baxter exit.
Deputy Burdess was the first responding officer, and he found a semitrailer mostly submerged in the bloated creek.
After Officers Herman and Bartello responded to the scene, the three surveyed the area, and Officer Bartello said that he had a tool available he could use to break through the windshield and search for the driver.
“My decision to get in was easy,” Officer Bartello said. “The two other guys were already in the water, and we had to do something.”
Bartello swam under water to find that the windshield of the vehicle had already been broken. Slipping into the cab of the truck he found the driver, 70-year-old Dwayne Michael, conscious and staying in a small air pocket at the top of the cab.
After communicating with the driver, Officer Bartello was able to convince him to swim back through the windshield and to the surface, where he received treatment from Deputy Burdess, Officer Herman and members of the Colfax Fire Department.
“Recognition like this makes our job worthwhile,” Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said as he expressed pride in his fellow county officers.
“It’s an honor to work with those three and everyone else,” said Halferty. “The guys in the water, they were able to work well together … This is a great highlight of what we do.”
Branstad and Reynolds both delivered speeches, praising all 11 recipients of the award for their heroics over the last year.
“These selfless upstanding citizens of the state of Iowa were willing to sacrifice to save the lives of other Iowans,” Branstad said. “To them we are extremely grateful.”
The conditions for the award are that the situation was extremely hazardous, a strong possibility existed at the time that the officer or firefighter could have suffered serious injury or death, the act was not foolhardy or ill-advised but well thought out, and that the recipient did not use poor judgment.