Heroic Minnesotans who made a tough year better 

Feb. 25, 2021

Col. Matt Langer (left) presents the Eagle Squadron Award to Trp. Gustavo Culbeaux during the 2021 State Patrol Awards on Feb. 24.
Col. Matt Langer (left) presents the Eagle Squadron Award to Trp. Gustavo Culbeaux during the 2021 State Patrol Awards on Feb. 24. The award is given to the trooper who arrested the greatest number of impaired drivers the previous year. Culbeaux arrested 181 impaired drivers in 2020, the most of any trooper.

They say the show must go on – but the awards ceremony must go on too, despite the need to socially distance and gather in small groups. That’s why the 2021 State Patrol Awards was virtual this year. And while some may have missed the banquet luncheon and the in-person camaraderie, the ceremony still served the purpose of recognizing the heroic things state troopers, first responders and citizens did last year to help their fellow Minnesotans.

These heroes were honored on Feb. 24 at the annual awards ceremony to recognize citizens, troopers and other public servants who put the needs of others above their own in an effort save lives on Minnesota roads in 2020. And although only a handful of awards were presented in person, what follows are some of the inspiring stories of those who received their awards virtually.

Life Saving Award and Meritorious Citizenship Award

Allina Health security officers Sanjin Bskovic and Abdi Dahir were on duty in February at United Hospital in St. Paul when they learned of a man trying to use a blade to cut himself nearby. As they worked to restrain the man, troopers Alexander Johnson and Elliott Lesser arrived on the scene. Together, the four of them were able to stop the man from injuring himself further.

Meritorious Citizenship Award

Emily Roeder was driving in a remote location in August when she saw a vehicle crash into a nearby ditch. Roeder, who is a registered nurse, immediately stopped to help. That’s when she realized the driver was having a heart attack. She began life-saving measures right away. Because the location of the crash was so far from other help, the driver would likely not have survived if it hadn’t been for Roeder’s quick actions.

Life Saving Award and Minnesota State Patrol Commendation

Sgt. Joshua Fellersen of the State Patrol and Deputy Alex McGrath of Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a young woman sitting in traffic lanes of Highway 61 in September. Before they arrived, the young woman, who was experiencing a mental health crisis, ran into the nearby woods to hide. They both searched for her, but when Deputy McGrath found her, she ran toward Lake Superior and tried to jump off a cliff. Deputy McGrath caught the young woman just as she reached the cliff edge, and Sgt. Fellerson pulled them both back toward safety.

It’s been a rough year for all of us, but the State Patrol Awards help us remember that there are first responders and fellow citizens who are willing to risk their own personal safety to keep the people of Minnesota safe.