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Willmar native receives highest State Patrol award

WILLMAR -- Willmar native Ben Standahl has earned the highest award presented by the Minnesota State Patrol.

Standahl, a 1995 graduate of Willmar Senior High School and a patrol officer with the Minneota Police Department, has received the Minnesota State Patrol Commendation Award for his actions while removing two men from a vehicle that rolled into a water-filled ditch March 28, 2010.

"I was surprised I was nominated in the first place," Standahl said. "I didn't picture that I did anything any other officer wouldn't do."

Standahl said he was honored to be a part of the April 26 State Patrol banquet in Eagan, but felt the other recipients risked more during the acts they performed than he did.

"Any officer in that situation would have done it, or I would hope they would have," Standahl said.

Minneota Police Chief Eric Johnson said he contacted the State Patrol to consider Standahl for the award. Following the accident investigation, Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Chad Nigg nominated Standahl for the award.

"It's nice for him to be recognized for doing something good," Johnson said. "I'm glad the (State) Patrol was willing to look at it and felt his action warranted the award."

Standahl said he was only a few miles away from the scene when the accident was reported. When he approached the scene, he found one man face down in the water and another individual sitting upright. He then pulled both out of the water.

"I have the feeling the one gentleman would not have survived if (Standahl) didn't get out there," Johnson said.

Standahl was among eight police officers statewide that received the commendation. The award is given to officers outside of State Patrol jurisdiction.

"I still don't think I did anything super-heroic to deserve it," Standahl said. "I feel like I just did my job."