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State Patrol names Willmar man Trooper of the Year

WILLMAR -- A Willmar man has been named the 2015 Trooper of the Year for the Minnesota State Patrol.Sgt. Dennis Koenen, a 30-year State Patrol vet, was honored as part of the patrol's annual awards ceremony, held Thursday, to recognize heroic act...

State Patrol Trooper of the Year
Ruth Koenen, Dennis Koenen and Travis Koenen attend a ceremony Thursday honoring Dennis Koenen as 2015 State Patrol Trooper of the Year. (SUBMITTED)

WILLMAR - A Willmar man has been named the 2015 Trooper of the Year for the Minnesota State Patrol.
Sgt. Dennis Koenen, a 30-year State Patrol vet, was honored as part of the patrol’s annual awards ceremony, held Thursday, to recognize heroic acts on Minnesota roadways.
Over 25 troopers were recognized at Thursday’s event in Vadnais Heights, for heroic events such as saving motorists from burning vehicles, saving a choking child, keeping citizens from ending their own lives and rescuing an abducted child.
Koenen is the State Patrol’s representative in the Kandiyohi Safe Communities Coalition and has presented at the local Toward Zero Deaths regional workshops.
He is part of the State Patrol’s St. Cloud District, covering 12 counties, including Kandiyohi, Pope, Swift, Meeker and Stearns.
In a news release, the State Patrol said Koenen has taken a leadership role in his station’s fatality reduction efforts by identifying the behaviors associated with fatal crashes in Kandiyohi and Meeker counties.
“Sgt. Dennis Koenen has been modeling what a state trooper should look and act like for the last 30 years,” said his State Patrol captain, Jeff Westrum. “I have always been amazed at his work ethic and the quality of his work. Any new trooper would do well to model him- or herself after Sgt. Koenen.”
According to Tribune archives, Koenen was honored in 1994 with a Meritorious Service Award for tackling an arson suspect in front of a burning Kandiyohi farm building.
He is set to retire later this year.
Another area trooper was also honored at Thursday’s ceremony.
Elissa Schmidt, also of the St. Cloud State Patrol, saved a hunter’s life in Swift County in November when she used her own hunting vest to keep him from bleeding to death.
Schmidt was off-duty on Nov. 7, hunting just north of Holloway, when she came upon fellow deer hunter Robert Schlieman, 36, of Detroit Lakes, who had been accidentally shot.
The Swift County Sheriff’s Office said a deer ran between Schlieman and other hunters with whom he was hunting.
One of the hunters thought the deer was far enough away, and started shooting at the deer. One of the slugs that was fired struck Schlieman in this left side of his abdomen.
Schmidt applied pressure to the wound with her hunting vest, encouraged Schlieman to continue breathing, and talked with him to keep him alert.
The Appleton Ambulance, Holloway First Responders and Swift County Sheriff’s Office along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded.
After help arrived, Trooper Schmidt continued applying direct pressure with gauze pads while medical staff performed an assessment. Schlieman was transported from the scene by the Appleton Ambulance to the Appleton Area Health Services Hospital where he was then airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital.
Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said Trooper Schmidt’s quick action saved the victim from extreme blood loss, according to the news release.

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