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Monday, Sep. 15, 2014

Two Scott County men honored

Friday, August 17, 2007

(Photo)
Kenny LeGrand accepts the Honorary Trooper Certificate from the Patrol's Capt. George E. Riddens.
BENTON -- Two Scott County men were deemed heroes Thursday for saving a woman who was trapped inside her water-submerged vehicle in late June.

Kenneth P. LeGrand, 58, and Jeffrey A. Miller, 46, both of Kelso received Honorary Trooper Certificates from Missouri State Highway Patrol during a special ceremony at the Scott County Courthouse in Benton.

The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. June 24 as the area was experiencing substantial flash flooding, and 71-year-old Bonnie Crawford of Scott City had just run her car off the road and overturned in a rain-swollen ditch on Scott County Road 311 near Kelso.

LeGrand, a farmer, was returning from a funeral home visitation and checking his crops for possible flood damage when he noticed a cloud of steam rising out of the ditch on the county road. He went to call 911. At the same time, Miller was driving by on his way home and also noticed the steam; he turned around.

The men walked over to the ditch, which was full of about a foot of water, and found Crawford's car. They couldn't tell if anyone was in the vehicle. In the meantime, Crawford said she couldn't see anything and was trying to get out.

"All I knew was my glasses and shoes were gone," Crawford said. "I thought, 'Is this the end of my life?' and then I heard someone say, 'We're going to have to break the window.' And then I knew I was going to live."

The men used a crowbar stored in LeGrand's truck to break the glass of the right rear window.

"Once we broke the window out, Kenny held onto me, and I pulled Mrs. Crawford through the window and handed her to Kenny. We set her on the tailgate of Kenny's truck," said Miller, who is a traffic trucking manager.

By that time -- about 10 minutes -- the sheriff's department and Patrol responded to the scene, LeGrand said.

A wet and disoriented Crawford managed to escape with only a few scratches. "Who knows what would have happened if they hadn't stopped," Crawford said.

Law enforcement officials said they know.

"The actions of Mr. LeGrand and Mr. Miller saved Mrs. Crawford's life. Being disoriented and trapped in her car, she certainly would have drowned or succumbed to exposure had she not been immediately found and rescued from her vehicle," said Capt. George E. Ridens, Troop E commander.

Lt. Jim McNiell, commander of the Patrol's Troop E Service Center in Sikeston, agreed.

"Most people would have called authorities and not have investigated on their own," McNiell said.

The Honorary Trooper Certificate is the highest honor a civilian can receive from the Patrol and isn't awarded often, McNiell said.

"When they actually save a life and endanger their own lives and do a heroic duty, we (the Patrol) like to give honor to citizens," McNiell said.

But LeGrand and Miller said they just did what anyone else would do.

"It really wasn't anything," LeGrand said.

In fact LeGrand said he's been a little embarrassed by all the attention he's received lately.

"I couldn't go to the coffee shop for three days (after it happened)," LeGrand laughed.

And saving someone's life wasn't new to Miller. About three years ago, he rescued a woman and her five children from their vehicle after they turned upside down in a ditch on the road he lives.

"I live on a bad road," Miller joked.

Regardless of their feelings about whether they deserve the attention, the men appreciated the recognition.

"It's nice they have a program like this," Miller said about the Patrol's honor.

Most of all, Crawford was pleased the men were acknowledged for their efforts, she said.

"Any accolades they can receive, I'm in favor of," Crawford said. "They're in my hero book, and they will be for all my life."