Gem of the Day 5/9: SHSU Police Officer To Receive State Award

Although Sam Houston State University police officer Rocky Carrell helped prevent a major disaster involving a runaway vehicle almost a year ago, the accolades for his quick-thinking and selfless actions are continuing to roll in.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education will present the 2011 State of Texas Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Valor to Carrell in Austin on June 8. Twenty-four law enforcement officers from across the state will be honored for professional achievement, public service and valor.

“The recipients of the Valor Award are selected for an act of personal heroism or bravery which exceeds the normal expectations of a job performance, such as placing one’s own life in jeopardy to save another person’s life, preventing serious bodily injury to another, or preventing the consequences of a criminal act,” according to Laura LeBlanc, public information officer for TCLEOSE.

On July 30, Carrell heard a Walker County Communications Center dispatcher broadcast a “runaway vehicle in progress.” Oakhurst resident Gatlin Jeter had been driving into Huntsville when his SUV became stuck in cruise control at 60 miles per hour as he approached the city’s main streets.

Carrell had reached the end of his shift and was about to turn in his squad unit for the day when he heard what was happening over the police scanner. He immediately headed toward the vehicle.
Carrell met and passed Jeter on Highway 190, then made a U-turn and accelerated to more than 90 miles per hour in an attempt to catch up with the out-of-control SUV. He was able to pass the vehicle and after getting in front of Jeter, he allowed him to ease into the rear of the squad unit.

By using a blocking maneuver, Carrell was able to stop Jeter’s SUV moments before it plowed into the back of a pickup stopped at a traffic light.

“Officer Carrell exhibited immense critical thinking skills, applied knowledge, and valor in order to assist a motorist from uncertain possibilities,” said Kevin Morris, SHSU chief of police.

“His selfless actions demonstrated his profound moral principles and his compassion for others,” he said. “He is a credit to the law enforcement community, the university, our department, and to the citizens of Huntsville and Walker County. His actions clearly reflect the motto of Sam Houston State University: ‘The measure of a Life is its Service.’”

In addition to Carrell’s recognition in Austin next month, he will be honored at the 100 Club’s 58th Annual Heroes Awards Banquet on May 16 in Houston. He is among 39 law enforcement officers and firefighters from an 18-county region who will receive recognition for performance above and beyond the call of duty.

Carrell’s quick-thinking action has also caught the attention of the media. During the past year, he has been interviewed and featured on shows such as the Today Show, NBC News, MSNBC, and Inside Edition. He was recently interviewed by NBC’s “Caught On Camera,” which will be televised in an upcoming episode.

And what does he think about all the attention?

“It’s been a little strange for me because I’m not someone who looks to be in the spotlight,” Carrell said. “But it’s all been about a good outcome, and it focuses on the good things that law enforcement officers do. I’m glad I could contribute to that.”

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