By Jessie MaxwellJune 21, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 21, 2012) -- "I knew something wasn't right when I saw his hat on the ground."
That was the moment when Sgt. 1st Class Michael Kinzie's instincts kicked into action and resulted in saving the life of Virginia Senior Trooper Mike Hamer.
Kinzie, a 20th Support Command (CBRNE) Soldier, was driving on Interstate 95 with his mother and brother, heading to his wife's graduation in Savannah, Ga., when he noticed flashing lights on a police car off to the side of the road. At the same time, his mother and brother heard a "pop, pop, pop," and were unsure of the cause the sound. At first glance, Kinzie believed the trooper was tugging on his seatbelt and then he noticed the trooper's hat was on the ground.
"It seemed odd because it reminded me of a drill sergeant's hat -- drill sergeants never put their hats on the ground," he said.
As Kinzie looked again, it became clear that Hamer was struggling to get out of his car.
Trooper Hamer gave his version of the incident, which started out, in his words, seemingly fine. Hamer, who was working in the Fredericksburg, Va., said he was responding to a call regarding a pedestrian on Interstate 95. Hamer found the suspect on the interstate and as they talked in Hamer's patrol car, the man appeared to be coherent.
Then, as Hamer described it, a switch was flicked and the suspect lunged over the front seat and attempted to grab Hamer's gun.
"While I was fighting back, he succeeded in getting the safety measure off the gun," Hamer said. "That's when the gun discharged into my leg."
Hamer was able to reach his backup weapon and shot the suspect. He then got out of his car and managed to call for help before feeling lightheaded from the blood loss. It was then that Kinzie passed by the scene; unable to stop due to traffic, Kinzie placed a 911 call, continued driving to the next exit, got off and turned around. During that time, two other people stopped to administer first aid to Hamer.
Because of the incident, traffic was already stopped on Interstate 95 but Kinzie said he was able to get through in order to give his statement to the officers on scene. Hamer credits Kinzie, as well as the other two Good Samaritans with saving his life.
"Because of his actions, Emergency Medical Services was able to get to the scene quickly," said Hamer, who has fully recovered from his injuries.
For his actions, Kinzie was awarded the Certificate of Merit from the Virginia State Troopers. In a letter written to Kinzie, the president of the Virginia State Police Association, E.J. Kelly, commended Kinzie's unselfish actions and expressed gratitude for his service. During the award ceremony, James De Ford, the northern Virginia field lieutenant told Kinzie the troopers were glad he happened to be driving by at that time.
"Because of you and the two other people, Trooper Hamer is alive," De Ford said.
After accepting the certificate, Kinzie attributed his actions to his upbringing and thanked his parents for teaching him the value of helping others.
"I'm thankful I was able to do something," Kinzie said. "I always try to put myself in the position to help others."