TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – Two Travelers Rest police officers each received a Medal of Valor, one of the department's highest honors, at Thursday's city council meeting.
Police Chief Lance Crowe presented Cpl. Mason Johnson and Officer Matt Nodine with the medals for pulling a man from a burning vehicle following a head-on wreck on June 22.
Crowe said Medals of Valor are rarely given, and this was only the second time the Travelers Rest Police Department has bestowed the honor.
“Please accept my highest praise and respect for your quick and decisive actions taken on that morning,” Crowe told the officers. “Through your bravery, you lived up to the highest standards of our agency’s motto – 'Honor, Integrity, & Respect' – and you serve as an encouragement and an example to us all.
In a dashcam video previously released by the department (video below), Johnson can be seen pulling up to the wreck in the early morning hours of June 22. As he checks the conditions of the occupants, both of whom were entrapped, a small fire breaks out under the hood of one of the vehicles.
Johnson as well as Nodine, who arrived on the scene soon after Johnson, were able to put the fire out with extinguishers, but it soon reignited. Just before the arrival of firefighters, the flames began to grow, and the officers, without hesitation, moved to get the trapped man out of the vehicle before the fire spread to the driver's compartment, placing him out of harm's way until he could be treated by first responders.
The driver who was pulled from the burning vehicle later died at the hospital from injuries he sustained in the crash, but Crowe said the actions of Johnson and Nodine potentially saved the life of the driver in the other vehicle by controlling the fire until firefighters could arrive.
Crowe said the actions of Johnson and Nodine were an example of how “we can clearly document how a dedicated officer on patrol can intervene in life-threatening events.”