he IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club® pays tribute to those deserving officers who have avoided serious or potentially fatal injuries through the use of any kind of body armor. This column is dedicated to sharing their experiences, in hopes of persuading others to wear their armor. If body armor has helped you or a member of your department survive such an accident or assault, please contact Anna Knight, Club Administrator, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club®, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23234; 804-383-3853; 800-441-2746; fax: 804-383-2477; e-mail: (Anna.G.Knight-1@USA.dupont.com).
The Survivors' Club application is also available on the IACP's Web site, (www.theiacp.org), under Awards/Survivors' Club.
After Pursuit Ends in Shootout,
Trooper Is Saved by Vest
Robert A. Miklich, then a trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police, was pursuing a suspect who crashed his vehicle into an earthen bank in a field and fled on foot. Miklich pursued on foot and overtook the suspect, who stopped, turned, and, at a distance of seven to 10 feet, fired a .38-caliber revolver twice.
The rounds struck Miklich in the left shoulder and the chest. The shoulder shot caused a penetrating wound, but the chest shot was stopped by the trooper's ballistic vest.
The impact knocked Miklich to his knees. He returned fire, hitting the suspect twice and knocking him down. Miklich reloaded his weapon, cautiously approached the shooter, disarmed him, and applied handcuffs. The shooter later died from his wounds.
Miklich suffered a backface signature injury from the bullet that was stopped by his vest. His shoulder wound required surgery to remove the bullet. He was released from the hospital after three days.
Miklich recovered from his wound and completed his career with the Pennsylvania State Police. Today he is a detective with the district attorney's office in Northampton County.
Constable's Vest Stops Shotgun
Pellets at Massacre Scene
Constables Paul G. Deorksen and Mike Kukolj of the London, Ontario, Police Service responded after dispatchers received an emergency call from a child who reported that her mother had been assaulted by an intruder. As Deorksen climbed the front steps of the residence, he heard a loud bang and felt a wave of heat in his arm and back. He had been shot.
Deorksen jumped from the porch and landed on his hands and knees in the driveway. He rolled to his back and returned fire to suppress the assault. Deorksen moved to cover and held a position to isolate the shooter until he was evacuated for medical care.
A fire erupted in the residence immediately after Constable Deorksen was shot. Members of the London Police Service emergency response team made entry where they found a massacre. Dead were a 37-year-old mother of two; a daughter, 13; and a son, 5. The shooter, a family acquaintance, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Deorksen had been struck by a blast from a 12-guage shotgun loaded with birdshot. Many of the pallets entered his arm and shoulder, but much of the blast was stopped by his body armor. He was hospitalized and required surgery to remove some of the shotgun pallets.
Three other members of the London Police Service were injured: Sergeant Dean Streefkerk and Constable Andy Bakker suffered from smoke inhalation, and Kukolj suffered a gunshot wound. All officers recovered from their injuries.
Armor Protects Deputy
Involved in Head-On Collision
While working the evening watch during a busy Fourth of July weekend, Deputy Larry B. Zydek of the King County Sheriff's Office, in Maple Valley, Washington, turned his patrol car onto a state highway and was struck head-on by a loaded gravel truck.
The force of the impact demolished the patrol vehicle and pinned Zydek in the wreckage. It took fire rescue personnel, using hydraulic cutting tools and jacks, a half-hour to extricate him.
Zydek awoke two days later in a Seattle hospital. He had no memories of the crash, but he had extensive injuries, including a broken leg and hand and a shattered ankle.
Physicians told Zydek his air bag, seat belt, and protective body armor had saved his life. Had he not been wearing a ballistic vest with a trauma plate, he would have sustained serious damage to his upper torso and vital organs.
Recovery for Deputy Zydek has been slow; he has undergone multiple surgeries and painful physical therapy and spent months in a wheelchair. A year after the crash, Zydek is now walking and has returned to modified duty for rehabilitation. He is committed to making a full recovery and resuming normal patrol duties. ■