A Knoxville, Tennessee police officer was presented with the Public Safety Medal of Valor at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on Wednesday morning.
KPD Officer Michael Keith received the honor from Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder for saving a state trooper from a burning vehicle in 2012.
Keith arrived on the scene after Sgt. Lowell Russell’s patrol car collided with a truck and caught fire. Keith fanned the flames with his shirt in an effort to save Russell, who was unconscious and trapped inside the vehicle. With the help of two citizens, Keith was able to rescue Russell and keep pedestrians away from the patrol car, which later exploded. Due to Keith’s actions, Russell survived the accident and began rehabilitation soon after.
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Twenty-one other public service officers were honored alongside Keith, including Watertown, Massachusetts firefighters, officers and sergeants that were involved in a firefight with a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and a team of FBI agents that were involved with the 2013 rescue of an abducted 5-year-old in Alabama.
The Medal of Valor is the highest award for valor that can be presented to a public safety officer. The medal is awarded to officers who have shown exceptional courage in an effort to protect human life.
Ninety-five medals have been awarded since the first ceremony in 2003.
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