Trooper David Erickson
On June 6, 2005 Trooper Dave Erickson was in the area of 12th Street and North Avenue when he observed a Grand Junction police officer attempting to stop a vehicle for numerous traffic violations. The driver was suspected of being intoxicated. Trooper Erickson turned around to assist the officer when the suspect would not stop in response to the emergency lights. When the police officer disengaged his attempt to stop the violator, Trooper Erickson stepped up to initiate the contact.
With Trooper Erickson behind the violator, the suspect continued through Grand Junction traveling southbound on 5th Street (Colorado 50) over the railroad tracks and the Colorado River which was approximately 150’ below. At the peak of the bridge above the river, the suspect abruptly stopped his car, quickly exited and ran west to the bridge railing. Trooper Erickson cautiously exited his patrol car and approached the despondent male.
When Erickson was approximately 12’ from the suspect, the male was advised to get on the ground. The male responded by telling Erickson that he was going to jump in the river and quickly he climbed over the bridge railing. Trooper Erickson immediately responded to the individual and grabbed the man’s right arm. Trooper Erickson’s attempt to pull the man to safety was met with defensive resistance and fighting as the suspect struggled to complete the suicide attempt.
While using a handheld radio to call for help, Erickson maintained his hold on the man’s arm as he himself was pulled towards the bridge rail. The continual defensive resistance exhibited by the despondent individual created a dangerous and potentially deadly situation. During the struggle, there was an eminent risk that Trooper Erickson would be pulled over the bridge and into the river along with the man. Erickson attempted to utilize joint locks to gain control over the subject and pull him back to safety. The attempts were unsuccessful.
With the assistance of two additional Grand Junction Police Officers, one who was able to grab the man’s other arm while the second reached over the bridge railing to grab the suspects pant line, the three officers pulled the despondent individual to safety on the sidewalk.
Trooper Erickson placed himself in a situation that posed an extreme risk to his own life in order to save the life of another. The extraordinary actions of the man to resist and fight Erickson’s attempt to save his life directly above the Colorado River further contributed to the increasing danger of the incident. Trooper Erickson exhibited an outstanding degree of dedication and courage while risking his own life. Without the life saving intervention, the despondent man would have been successful at suicide attempt.
The actions exhibited by Trooper Erickson reflect the highest standards of the law enforcement profession and demonstrate a strong commitment to the preservation of life, clearly validating his commitment to the State Patrol’s expectations of the Core Value: “Dedication to Duty.”