12-year-old among recipients of Missouri Public Safety awards


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.– Gov. Mike Parson awarded 22 Missourians for their heroic and life-saving actions Wednesday by receiving the state’s highest public award.

Fifteen first responders and seven civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, from around the state were recognized.

This year’s Governor’s Medal went to several St. Louis area first responders who helped Arlydia Bufford after she was shot at St. John’s Applebee’s. Bufford is a Kinloch firefighter and was dining with the fire captain at the time of the shooting. That captain is credited with rendering life-saving first aid as Bufford was rushed to a hospital in a police cruiser.

Jayden Groves, 12, was honored for helping save his 22-month-old brother’s life. Groves noticed his brother wandered off from a large family gathering. He found his brother face down in a pond. The boy, 11-years-old at the time of the incident, rushed to a nearby fire department and got help.

Members of the Chesterfield and St. Peter’s Police Department are also being honored following their part in a fiery rescue. The officers braved the flames to cut the wires holding the man in place. They succeeded in freeing the man, who was rushed to the hospital.

Also honored, two Franklin County Sheriff Deputies who were shot in the line of duty. The shooting happened after a driver refused to pull over for a traffic stop on I-44 near Hwy. 50.

  • Medal of Valor:
    • Sergeant Jason M. Weggeman and Deputy Sheriff Ronald R. Burgess, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, for ending the threat posed by gunman.
    • Sergeant Michael J. Ottolini and Detective Lee Alex Clawson, Jefferson City Police Department, for ending the threat posed by a gunman.
    • Sergeant Heather M. Anderson, Springfield Police Department, for ending the threat posed by a motorist who had deliberately run over a Springfield police officer.
    • Corporal Jason A. Ashby, Missouri State Highway Patrol, for life-saving actions following a catastrophic boating collision. 
    • Officer John K. Gresco II, St. Charles County Police Department, for life-saving actions during severe flash flooding.
    • Officers Ryan W. Broeker and Andrew C. Mattaline, Chesterfield Police Department; and Devin R. Kitrel, St. Peters Police Department; for life-saving actions following a deadly automobile crash.
  • Governor’s Medal
    • Officers Mitchell D. Griffin and Dustin P. Hitchcock, St. John Police Department; Officer Michael W. Mertz, Crestwood Police Department; Officer Chad W. Hembree, Woodson Terrace Police Department; and Captain Darion Meeks, Kinloch Fire Department; for life-saving actions following a restaurant shooting in which multiple people were shot.
  • Public Safety Civilian Partnership Award:
    • Kurtis Brown, nominated by Missouri State Highway Patrol, for rescuing two men trapped inside a burning armored truck after a crash. 
    • Lendon J. Blanchard, Evan G. Clements, and Christopher A. Runion, nominated by Lamar Police Department, for critical assistance to a police officer in taking into custody a murder suspect after a violent disturbance at a church. 
    • Jayden Groves, nominated by Louis Fire Department, for the life-saving rescue of a 22-month-old boy who was drowning in a pond. 
    • Miles Spandle, nominated by Lee’s Summit Police Department, for life-saving actions following an automobile crash and fire.
    • Brody J. Von Brethorst, nominated by Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, for life-saving actions in the rescue of a teenager who sank to the bottom of a lake after diving off a 40-foot cliff.

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