Forest Service officer honored for bravery

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2001

For Moose Pass resident Jeffrey Bryden, the events that took place on Dec. 16 were part of his job. But officials took it upon themselves to recognize the bravery he showed that day.

William Wasley, the U.S. Forest Service's national director of law enforcement and investigations, presented Bryden's award Jan. 23 at the Goldbelt Hotel in Juneau in a ceremony before his co-workers.

According to a press release, Bryden was awarded an American Police Hall of Fame Silver Star for Bravery for his daring rescue attempt at the scene of a fatal car wreck. He was nominated for the award by his officers.

Bryden, a Forest Service law enforcement officer, was the first on the scene that day after a massive accident on the Seward Highway near Moose Pass. One vehicle was completely engulfed in flames and the second had a gasoline leak. Victims were trapped in both vehicles.

"By no means am I the only one who did something for this," he said, adding that Alaska State Troopers and other fire and emergency personnel assisted.

"It was a pretty major scene," he said.

Due to smoke and flames, Bryden could not get to the driver of the burning vehicle. He found no pulse in the driver of the second vehicle.

Though fearing an explosion from the damaged fuel tank, Bryden, disregarding his own welfare, used a Pulaski, a tool which looks like a combination of an axe and a grub hoe, to pry open the door and extricate the passenger from the second vehicle.

"Bryden pulled the victim from the wreckage as the tires on the second vehicle exploded, spewing flame and burning rubber," according to a prepared report. "After the scene was secured, three five-gallon cans of gasoline were found ruptured in the back of the second vehicle."

Tragically, there were no survivors of the wreck, but Bryden was not harmed.

Bryden, a 12-year veteran of law enforcement, works out of the Seward Ranger District of the Chugach National Forest. His canine partner, Flash, a wildlife detection dog, also attended the ceremony where Bryden was honored.

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