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Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Blades, of the Pushmataha County Detachment, Antlers, was recently named Trooper of the Year at the Department of Public Safetyâ€™s 75th Anniversary banquet.
The events leading to Trooper Bladeâ€™s achievement centered on the heroic actions taken against three Wright City bank robbery suspects, which lead into a pursuit and ended with two of the suspects expiring from fatal gunshot wounds.
Trooper of the Year is the highest honor one is able to receive through the department. Leading to this event Blades was honored with the Medal of Valor from the Oklahoma Sheriff and Peace Officers Association, the H.K. â€śTonyâ€ť Calvert Award by the Committee of One Hundred, and an Honor Citation from Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives.
â€śJune 16, 2011-Trooper Blades responded to an armed robbery call in Wright City that occurred at approximately 1:00 pm where a robber walked into the bank, pointed a revolver into the air and said, â€śItâ€™s tough times,â€ť before demanding money from the tellers. The robber told the tellers to fill a garbage bag with money, Agent Clay Simmonds said.
Traveling east on State Highway 3, Trooper Blades spotted a Dodge pickup traveling west matching the description of the vehicle used in the bank robbery. While attempting to make contact with the vehicle a pursuit began, reaching speeds at over 100 mph. Radioing ahead Trooper Blades made contact with Rattan Police Department, where a roadblock was set; in attempts to avoid spike-strips the vehicle exited the roadway and entered into a post office parking lot before reentering the roadway.
Trooper Blades continued the pursuit towards another roadblock set by Oklahoma Highway Patrol when the vehicle exited onto a private drive approximately five miles east of Antlers into a field. Once the vehicle reached a locked gate at the back of the property, Trooper Blades exited from his patrol car with his rifle giving verbal commands for the driver and two passengers to exit the vehicle.
In disregard for Trooper Bladesâ€™ commands the vehicle backed towards the patrol car and accelerated directly towards Trooper Blades. In defense of his safety, shots were fired into the vehicle before it departed back towards State Highway 3 and came to rest a mile from the private drive.
It is with this great personal danger to himself that Trooper Blades kept his focus on bringing the desolate pursuit to an end, minimizing injury or potentially even death to the general public. He acted quickly, with great skill, making precise and sound decisions that lead to Trooper Blades being named Trooper of the Year at the Department of Public Safetyâ€™s 75th Anniversary Banquet held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on May 11th.â€ť