May 15, 2021

Top Story #7: Law enforcement officers awarded for heroism in I-80 rescue

Three Jasper County law enforcement officers were honored In early November for actions they took in May to save the life of a semitrailer driver who had crashed into a rain-swollen creek off Interstate Highway 80.

For their efforts, 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 bestowed the Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor. The ceremony was led by Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Larry Noble and attended by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

May 30, during a period of flooding, a call was made notifying dispatchers of signs of a wreck on I-80 east of the Baxter exit. Burdess was the first responding officer, and he found a semitrailer mostly submerged in the bloated creek.

Herman and Bartello responded a short time later, and the three surveyed the area and began searching for the driver, later identified as 70-year-old Dwayne Michael. Having a tool he could use to break through the semi’s windshield, Bartello dove in, but found the windshield was already broken.

Slipping into the cab of the truck, he found Michael conscious and staying in a small air pocket at the top of the cab. Bartello was able to convince the driver to follow him back through the windshield and to the surface, where he could be treated for injuries related to the crash.

The Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor is presented to emergency responders when, in the course of their duties, they respond to a hazardous situation in which the possibility of physical harm existed. It is not awarded in situations in which actions were ill-advised or were the result of poor judgment.