Highway Patrol Trooper Receives Medal of Valor for Wildfire Helicopter Crash Rescue
HELENA – Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Amanda Villa received the Medal of Valor, the agency’s highest award, for rushing toward a burning Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopter that had tipped over and helping four of its passengers to safety. MHP Colonel Lavin presided over the ceremony today at the Montana State Capitol. Attorney General Austin Knudsen presented the award.
To qualify for the award, troopers must show an act of heroism and bravery, knowingly expose themselves to obvious life-threatening peril, or react to a situation without regard for personal safety to effect aid or rescue.
“Our troopers put themselves in harm’s way every day to serve others, but Trooper Amanda Villa’s act of valor stands above and is among the best in the Highway Patrol’s long history of service, integrity, and respect,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Without Trooper Villa’s quick-thinking and selfless actions that day, the outcome could have been much different.”
“What began as routine roadblock turned into a rescue mission in the blink of an eye,” Colonel Lavin said. “Thanks to the quick thinking and preparedness of Trooper Villa and the deputy, everyone went home safely. I can’t understate my appreciation for their heroic actions.”
“In the face of danger, Highway Patrol Trooper Villa went beyond the call of duty to lead these Montanans to safety,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “On behalf of a grateful state, I’d like to thank Trooper Villa and the deputy for their immediate, life-saving action on June 15.”
“Highway Patrol Trooper Amanda Villa’s actions in response to the helicopter accident on June 15th were an extraordinary example of the exceptional emergency response partnerships that the DNRC is so proud of and grateful for,” DNRC Director Amanda Kaster said. “She provided a heroic act of service for which our agency and firefighters are forever thankful.”
MHP Trooper Amanda Villa receives the Medal of Valor in the Old Supreme Court Chambers inside the Montana State Capitol.
On Tuesday, June 15th, Trooper Amanda Villa was in Broadwater County to conduct a roadblock for a nearby fire when she witnessed a DNRC helicopter crash near Highway 12 east of Townsend. Trooper Villa and a Broadwater County Sheriff’s Deputy immediately responded to render aid to the five passengers on board.
A passenger who had managed to escape informed Villa that four more people remained in the wreckage. Trooper Villa and the deputy rushed to the scene and helped the remaining four passengers to safety. The DNRC personnel were released from the hospital that day after being assessed and cleared by medical professionals.
Villa is currently stationed in Helena, where she was born and raised.