SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Trooper Andrew Steen of the South Dakota Highway Patrol has been named the American Association of State Troopers 2013 Trooper of the Year following an incident with a suspected drunk driver in which he received critical injuries.
Steen, 34, is assigned to the Sioux Falls District of the Highway Patrol.
The incident for which he received the honor started when Steen attempted to stop a vehicle for erratic driving in Sioux Falls in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2012. The driver fled in her vehicle. Other Highway Patrol troopers and Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies joined to assist in the pursuit.
The driver entered a parking lot, where she rammed into Steen’s vehicle before driving into a storefront. Steen was then on foot and attempted to immobilize her vehicle while commanding her to stop. When he realized the driver was headed straight for him, he fired his duty weapon. She drove into Steen, forcing him onto the hood of her vehicle, and then he fell to the ground.
Realizing that lives were in danger and an officer was down, deputies also fired upon the driver. She fled the scene and was apprehended nearby. She received two gunshot wounds but survived.
Steen suffered a fractured skull, a life-threatening traumatic brain injury, and a severely broken ankle. He does not remember much of what happened that day. Doctors said his life was in jeopardy, and he was told recovery could take several years.
Following a medically induced coma, surgery on his ankle, and surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, Steen was released from the hospital on Dec. 14, 2012, just eight weeks and two days after the incident. He left the hospital on crutches, wearing his full South Dakota Highway Patrol uniform and had a police escort to his home.
Steen and the deputies were found to be justified in firing their weapons and using lethal force.
Steen was nominated for the AAST award by Col. Craig Price, Superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, for extreme courage in a life-threatening situation and for his resiliency and dedication during his hospital stay. Steen also showed great compassion by donating several thousand dollars to another police family in need from the donations he had received. He was among 25 troopers from 18 states nominated for the AAST award.
AAST representatives will present Steen with a crystal trophy and a Smith & Wesson M&P 9 mm handgun at a joint event of the SDHP and the Minnesota State Patrol on June 13 in Sioux Falls. The event will take place at 11:45 a.m. CDT at the Port of Entry on the South Dakota side of the South Dakota-Minnesota border on Interstate 90. The media is invited to attend.
The AAST Trooper of the Year award is presented annually to a state trooper who exemplified traits of an outstanding law enforcement officer in the previous year.
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