November 5, 2013
Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers from the Pendleton Area Command office will be honored Friday by the Oregon Peace Officers Association (OPOA) in recognition for their lifesaving efforts at the scene of the December 30, 2012, multi-fatal tour bus crash along Interstate 84 east of Pendleton. The Oregon Peace Officers Association holds the annual awards banquet to honor the men and women of Oregon's law enforcement community who have distinguished themselves through bravery, heroism, and exemplary service to the public.
The OPOA is holding the organization's annual Awards Banquet November 8, 2013 at Spirit Mountain Casino and announced the presentation of special awards to several individuals. One of the awards, the OPOA "Medal of Valor" award, will be presented to OSP Senior Trooper Rick Madsen, Senior Trooper Michael Mayer, and Aaron Dietz. The OPOA "Medal of Valor" is awarded to individuals who, while serving in an official capacity with their law enforcement agency, distinguish themselves by reacting to a situation in a positive and professional manner, thereby reducing the risk of loss of life or injury to citizens.
On December 30, 2013, a tour bus with 47 occupants traveled off the snow/ice covered westbound lanes of Interstate 84 near milepost 227, crashing through a guardrail and rolling approximately 200 feet down a steep embankment before coming to rest on its wheels at the bottom of a ravine. As the three OSP troopers and Umatilla Tribal Fire Department personnel were first to arrive on scene, the seriousness of the situation was clear and additional emergency resources were requested and dispatched.
Several bus occupants were ejected, many injured and some deceased outside of the bus. Others were still inside the bus and as the troopers moved down the steep snow/ice covered embankment they encountered several people in need of immediate medical care. Cries for help were coming from inside the bus.
As temperatures remained below freezing and knowing the bus scene wasn't stabilized, they worked outside and inside the damaged, crushed bus during the next 2 1/2 hours under the harshest, gut-wrenching conditions to treat, care for, extricate, rescue, recover and help transport surviving patients. They also assisted with recovery and removal of the 9 deceased victims. Thirty-eight (38) other bus occupants were injured - twelve critically - but if it wasn't for the actions of these troopers and the paramedic, others may have also died from their injuries.
Senior Trooper Madsen, age 45, is a 13-year OSP veteran who is now assigned as a detective in the Gaming Enforcement Section in Salem. Senior Trooper Mayer, age 32, is a 9-year OSP veteran assigned to the Fish & Wildlife Division at the Pendleton office. Dietz, age 37, recently resigned after working for OSP for 9 years.
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