LIFESAVER AWARD — From the left, MSPOA Board of Directors Undersheriff Wynn Meehan of Broadwater County, Emily Leonard, Deputy Terry Leonard and MSPOA President Sheriff Vern Burdick of Chouteau County. Leonard received a special Life Saving award recently at the MSPOA convention. Photo courtesy of Terry Leonard
Deputy Terry Leonard of the Pondera County Sheriff’s Office was the recipient of the 2013 Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (MSPOA) Lifesaver award.
He was selected from nominated officers from thestate of Montana for, “Any employee of a Sheriff’s Office whose actions saved a life or lives and went above and beyond what is normally expected in regular day to day duty”.
In September of 2012, Leonard was the first on scene at a vehicle crash on I-15 at the Valier highway overpass. The vehicle had struck the concrete support structure and had trapped the driver inside the vehicle. The vehicle had caught on fire and the engine compartment and interior of the vehicle were engulfed in flames.
Leonard initially extinguished the fire, but it repeatedly kept re-igniting. He gathered bystanders to continually pour water from water bottles and retardant from fire extinguishers into the engine compartment to keep the fire under control.
Leonard and an off-duty firefighter from Phoenix, who was on vacation, used a tire iron to pry the driver’s side door open while waiting on Jaws of Life from Conrad Fire Rescue.
He and the firefighter were able to pry the door open to move the driver away from the burning portion of the interior and extinguish the remaining portion of the interior fire.
EMS personnel arrived and extracted the driver fully and he was airlifted to Great Falls for treatment of injuries. Another occupant of the vehicle crash did not survive.
Leonard is only the second officer to receive the “Lifesaver Award” from the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.
The deputy tells the I-O, “I am humbled and honored to be able to bring an award like this back to Pondera County. I also want to share this award with all of the EMS personnel in the county, who are true heroes; they get out there and perform heroic acts of courage every single day with little to no recognition and little to no compensation.”
He went on to add, “They do it because they love it, and we all should be extremely grateful for all of our fire and EMS folks who protect our families day in and day out. We are fortunate to live in such a great community with such folks…the next time you see one of them walking down the street, shake their hand and thank them; they have probably done something heroic you don’t know about that would knock your socks off.”
The MSPOA is headquartered in Helena, and was originally founded in 1929 in Miles City. MSPOA President Sheriff Vern Burdick of Choteau County and MSPOA Board of Director’s member Undersheriff Wynn Meehan of Broadwater County presented Leonard with this award at the 2013 MSPOA Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Butte on June 13.
Leonard’s wife Emily, was on hand to receive the award with him, as well as family members from Florida and several of his Law Enforcement colleagues and friends.
He has been serving Pondera County and the Valier community since April of 2012. He resides in Valier with his wife, son Caden and daughter Amanda. The couple is expecting a fifth member of their family to arrive in September.