Three Stars of Tennessee Award honors five Tennessee heroes
I along with Governor Bill Lee, and Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long presented the state’s Three Stars of Tennessee Award posthumously on Thursday to three law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. The annual awards also honored two other first responders who received career-ending injuries. I was the primary sponsor and passed this legislation in 2014. The Three Star awards are Tennessee’s highest awards honoring those who dedicated their lives for the safety and security of their fellow citizens. The awards were presented posthumously to the families of Hendersonville Police Department Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol, Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer Matthew Gatti and Brentwood Police Department Officer Destin Legieza, all who died in the line of duty. In addition, Memphis Police Officer Jeffrey Creighton and Putnam County Paramedic Heather Birdwell received awards in the aftermath of severe and career-ending injuries they suffered in the line of duty.
Every day in Tennessee brave men and women put on their uniforms and report for duty with the knowledge that they may pay the ultimate price for the job that they do. It is very appropriate that the State of Tennessee honors the sacrifices made by Tennessee heroes like these who have demonstrated nobility through their selfless actions. No words seem adequate to express our gratitude and admiration for the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to selflessly serving others.
The event, which is held close to September 11 each year, took place at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Nashville. Senator Massey spearheaded legislation in 2014 to recognize law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders who exhibit brave and heroic sacrifices in the line of duty. This is the 7th presentation of the annual awards since passage of that act.
In addition, First Responder Recipient awards were given to first responder agencies from state and local governments in Tennessee to honor their efforts to protect the public.
The tragedy of 9-11 serves as a reminder each year of the sacrifices made by our first responders. These awards are a small token of our appreciation for the jobs they do every day for our citizens.
Pictures from the event are below
Trooper Matthew Gatti, Tennessee Highway Patrol (posthumous)Trooper Matthew Gatti, 24, was killed when his patrol car collided with two commercial tractor-trailers on I-40 near mile marker 74 in Madison County. The incident occurred at approximately 3:45p.m.as Trooper Gatti was responding to a car fire. His patrol car struck the rear of one semi before spinning into a second. Trooper Gatti served with the Tennessee Highway Patrol for 11 months. Prior to that, he served as a corrections officer at the MadisonCounty Criminal Justice Complex before applying to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Trooper Gatti is survived by his wife, his parents, and his three younger teenage siblings. End of Watch: May 6, 2019.
The family of Officer Destin Legieza, Brentwood Police Department (posthumous) On June 18, 2020 at approximately 0500 hours, Officer Destin Legieza was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle being operated by an impaired driver. The impaired driver was traveling northbound in a southbound lane without the use of headlights. Officer Legieza was a 5-year veteran of the Brentwood Police. He proudly served as a Crime Scene Technician and Field Training Officer. End of Watch: June 18, 2020
The family of Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol, Hendersonville Police Department (posthumous) Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol was struck and killed by a vehicle while involved in a foot pursuit of a subject across I-65 near Vietnam Veterans Boulevard in Davidson County. Officers were pursuing a vehicle with two occupants in Hendersonville. The pursuit continued through Goodlettsville until crashing at the interchange. One of the subjects was taken into custody but the second man fled on foot. Officer Bristol was fatally struckby a vehicle as they ran across I-65. The subject he was chasing continued to flee,but he was later taken into custody. The subject who was arrested at the scene was charged with reckless endangerment and felony evading. Officer Bristol was a U.S. Navy veteran and had served with the Hendersonville Police Department for four years. He is survived by his wife and 3-year old daughter. End of Watch: December 30, 2019
Officer Jeffrey Creighton, Memphis Police Department (Career-Ending Injury) On June 19, 2018, after completing a traffic stop, Officer Creighton was walking to his patrol vehicle when an intoxicated driver crossed the roadway and struck him from behind. As a result of the impact, Officer Creighton suffered several life threatening injuries including several broken bones and a brain injury. He endured several months in the hospital and several more months in physical therapy. In only six months of work in 2018, he had 129 felony arrests, and 187 misdemeanor or city arrests. Officer Creighton’s statistics reflect his hard working attitude, commitment to excellence, and willingness to sacrifice for the better of the Frayser/Raleigh neighborhoods.
Paramedic Heather Birdwell, Putnam County EMS (Career-Ending Injury) Paramedic Heather Birdwell has been an EMS provider since 2000, serving in various roles at multiple agencies. She served as a Critical Care Paramedic for Putnam County EMS for the last 7 years. On October 1, 2019, Ms. Birdwell was working on the ambulance with her partner. They responded to a routine call for lift assist at around 4:30 a.m., unfortunately, during the course of assisting the patient from her car to the home, Ms. Birdwell suffered a back injury. The injury, even after surgical intervention, became career-ending. During the course of her career and the event resulting in her injury, she displayed professionalism, courage, and sincere desire to help the citizens of Tennessee.
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District 6 Senator