USFWS Refuge Officer Receives Interior Department Honor for Courageous Actions
In recognition of his decisive and selfless actions that saved the lives of two motor vehicle accident victims.
On January 5th, 2012, two passenger vehicles attempted to drive across a frozen, washed out road in Renville County, North Dakota. As they crossed, the ice gave way and both vehicles were submerged in frigid waters. Local emergency responders contacted Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge and asked for assistance with an airboat to reach three individuals stranded on top of the vehicles. Refuge Officers Tighe Teets, Tasha Dolgoff, and Duane Anderson immediately responded with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service airboat.
At the accident site, Officers Teets and Dolgoff launched the airboat in winds gusting to 50 miles per hour and air temperatures in the low 40s. Officer Teets' skill in maneuvering the airboat allowed them to reach two victims clinging to the top of the submerged vehicles. While Officer Teets maintained control of the airboat, Officer Dolgoff brought the victims aboard. Both were suffering from hypothermia and were in critical medical condition. Officer Teets piloted the airboat to shore where the victims were turned over to emergency medical providers.
Officers Teets, Dolgoff, and a Renville County Sheriff's Deputy returned to the submerged vehicles and recovered the body of a third accident victim. Later that evening, when weather conditions improved, Officers Teets and Dolgoff assisted a dive team with recovery of the two submerged trucks.
Without Officer Teets' quick response and skillful operation of the rescue airboat, the two surviving accident victims may have perished in the frigid water and cold air temperatures. For his courageous actions, which resulted in the saving the life of another, Refuge Officer Tighe Teets is granted the Exemplary Act Award of the Department of the Interior.