A Glasgow police officer has been awarded the Montana Medal of Valor for his actions that saved the life of a law enforcement dispatcher who was trapped in a burning truck.
The medal was presented to Tyler Edwards by Montana Attorney General Tim Fox at the annual meeting of the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police (MACOP) in Billings on May 16.
Kim Tribby was on U.S. 2 East, just past Highway 24, driving home to Nashua from her night shift at dispatch on April 23, 2012, when her pickup was hit head-on by a drunk driver in another pickup. Detention officer Elias Nix was driving behind her and saw the crash. He called 911, then tried to open Tribby’s door, but all the doors were jammed by the collision.
Edwards, an officer with three years on the force, was on night patrol, handling stationary radar near the underpass in Glasgow, when he heard the call on the radio. He arrived at the scene to find the other truck on fire, but the driver was standing safely outside. The flames were spreading to Tribby’s truck. Her right leg was crushed and she was trapped.
With Deputy Joel Novak, Edwards broke out all the windows and tried all the handles. They broke off the handles, trying to open the doors. He found a tow rope in the other burning truck and used it to pull Tribby’s truck about 10 feet away, but it was already on fire. They tried to pull Tribby’s door open with a chain, but it was no use. Smoke and heat were getting too much for her to stand.
Together Edwards and the deputy pulled Tribby out of the driver’s side window. Less than a minute later, her truck was completed engulfed in flames.
Tribby was flown to Billings for extensive treatment and was out of work for five months. She nearly lost that leg, but on May 16, she walked over to put the Medal of Valor around Edwards’ neck.
At the ceremony Tribby read a letter describing the events of that night and what Edwards’ actions meant to her.
“Because of his initiative I have my life with 49 seconds to spare. The rescue was a group effort but Tyler was the leader, he was my sanity and I can’t express how much he means to me. ... Because of him I have a second chance, a chance to make wrongs right, a chance to live without regrets, a chance to remember there is more to life than work, a chance to tell the people who mean everything to me exactly how I feel.”
Edwards’ family was there to see the award, his father, Mike Edwards, his mother, Lisa Baxter, his stepfather, Matt Baxter, and his sister, Bailey. Also present to see Edwards honored were his superior officers, Glasgow Police Chief Bruce Barstad and Capt. Brien Gault, who is on the Executive Board of MACOP.
“She always helps us out,” Edwards said. “It was nice to help her out.”