Troopers Bristol, Riley and Shuback
On January 23, 2007 at about 0830 hours Irwin and Melita Trussel were westbound on Colorado 6 in Jefferson County, heading to the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City. Mr. Trussel, who was driving, lost control of their vehicle, skidding down a rock and snow embankment for 88 feet, rolling over one-half time. As the vehicle came to its final rest, it broke through the edge of ice that had covered Clear Creek. Trooper Robert Riley, ½ mile west of the crash assisting another motorist, was told of the incident from a passing motorist. While on the way to assist, Trooper Riley requested through the Denver Communications Center, Golden Fire Department to respond with their Swift Water Rescue team. As he arrived on scene, another motorist informed him two people were trapped inside the vehicle, and offered him some rope to climb down the embankment. Tying the rope to his patrol car bumper, Trooper Riley requested 10-33 traffic, and Trooper Deb Bristol, Trooper Steven Shuback and Corporal Joe Hurt responded to the scene. Trooper Riley entered the water and discovered both occupants suspended upside down in their vehicle, pleading with Trooper Riley to get them out as water as coming into the car. At the same time an off duty Back Hawk Fire Department member, (Lee Nida) offered his assistance and went down the embankment to assist Trooper Riley.
Assessing the situation, the vehicle was resting on a slab of ice, and both doors were jammed. Trooper Riley went back up the embankment to find something to use as a pry bar. Trooper Shuback soon arrived, descending down the line, requesting a blanket be thrown to him. Using the blanket as a shield for the driver, he broke out the driver’s side window. Using his knife, and with the assistance of Trooper Bristol, trooper Shuback was able to cut the driver’s seatbelt and pulled him from the car, handing him off to Trooper Riley and Trooper Bristol. Trooper Shuback then leaned into the wrecked vehicle as it was filling with water and was able to cut the passenger’s seatbelt, helping to remove Mrs. Trussel. Trooper Riley sat with his legs in the water to keep Mrs. Trussel out of the frigid water. Using the blankets from the patrol cars, the Troopers were able to keep the Trussels warm. Corporal Hunt coordinated the rescue efforts from the top of the embankment, verifying the scene was safe for rescue personnel and the Troopers. Approximately 15 minutes later Golden Fire Department members descended down the embankment, transporting the Trussels who were taken by ambulance and treated for their injures. Of note, a bystander on scene was Doctor Michael A. Gutierrez, who stated without hesitation, that the efforts of the Troopers involved “saved the life of these two victims. If the victims had not been removed from the car and kept warm, they would not have lived.”