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: 804383-2477; e-mail: (Anna.G.Knight-1@USA.dupont.com).
The Survivors' Club application is also available on the IACP's Web site, (http://www.theiacp.org/awards/Campaigns/survivor/).
Arkansas Trooper Survives Rollover Crash
Trooper Lori A. Whillock of the Arkansas State Police was on her way to join a fellow trooper in pursuit of two Oklahoma prison escapees when her patrol car lost traction at 75 miles per hour. Whillock steered sharply to avoid a collision with a tractor-trailer, and the police car spun out of control. It left the roadway, struck an embankment, and flipped over.
Afterward, Whillock found herself upside down but still secured in place by her lap and shoulder belt. She believes her ballistic vest protected her from serious injury when her laptop computer and other work-related objects struck her during the crash. She did not suffer any bruising from the shoulder belt.
Whillock sustained a neck injury and a contusion on her left knee. She returned to duty with the Arkansas State Police.
The fleeing suspects were apprehended and charged in Arkansas with felony fleeing and aggravated assault. They faced additional charges in Oklahoma.
Vest Protects Texas Police Officer Shot at Close Range
Officer Roger C. Gill of the San Antonio, Texas, Police Department responded to a report of a man with a gun near an apartment complex. Gill quickly spotted the man on the scene. He was standing near the swimming pool with other men, one of whom walked quickly into an apartment after seeing the officer and then returned.
Gill took up a tactical position, and other officers began arriving on the scene. A man standing near the pool drew a weapon and opened fire on the officers. Gill determined that he had a clear backstop and returned fire, advancing toward the shooter, who continued shooting. A bullet struck Gill in the lower right torso, but his ballistic vest stopped the 9mm bullet. The shooter was killed in the gunfight.
Emergency medical personnel determined that Gill had suffered a backface signature injury in the form of a contusion and small laceration under the point where the 9mm bullet had struck his vest. He returned to full duty.
The shooter was a known violent offender. He was on parole, wore a radio monitor attached to his ankle, and was wanted on a felony warrant. Investigators could not determine the source of the bullet that struck Gill, leaving open the possibility of hostile or friendly fire or a ricochet bullet.
Patrol Car Strikes Fallen Tree in Roadway; Officer Escapes with Minor Injuries
Officer Gregory J. Rushing of the Marion, Kentucky, Police Department was responding in his patrol car to a request for assistance from police in storm-damaged Providence, Kentucky. An F-3 tornado had left dozens injured, destroyed homes, and crippled the city's power and telephone infrastructure.
As Rushing's patrol vehicle rounded a curve, it struck a tree that had fallen across the roadway during the storm. Rushing was wearing his seat belt, and the vehicle's air bags deployed, but the crash threw him against the steering wheel with such force that it left blue paint smeared on his uniform shirt.
Nevertheless, Rushing's ballistic vest protected him from suffering serious physical injuries. He sustained a severe bruise on his right knee but required no hospitalization. He returned to full duty. ■