Gabriel and Misty Johnson could have just kept driving home. The Kansas City couple didn’t have to get involved.
But because they did, police caught a hit-and-run driver who killed a pedestrian on a Kansas City street.
The Johnsons — along with a number of other citizens and police officers — were honored for their quick thinking and bravery at a Kansas City police awards ceremony Tuesday night.
Another civilian recognized was Eric Van Horn, who along with off-duty police detective Pete Cutcliff pulled a man from a burning car despite the disoriented man’s attempt to fight them off.
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The Urban Ranger Corps was honored for helping find a missing child with Down syndrome this summer.
The rangers help at-risk young men in the central city with their educational and career goals. About 60 rangers were at the Lakeside Nature Center in June when the boy walked into the woods and his family reported him missing.
The rangers volunteered to help police and fanned out in teams to scour the trails and creeks in the area. They found the boy safe in about 15 minutes.
In the case of the Johnsons, they were driving home when they came across a man lying in the street in a pool of blood. They called 911. After police spoke to them, they were told they could leave.
A short distance away, the couple spotted a car swerving and driving in the wrong direction. They again called 911 and began following the car, which had a shattered windshield.
Misty Johnson stayed on the phone with dispatchers until police arrived and took the driver, who was inebriated, into custody. His vehicle had hit the pedestrian, police said.
Police officers receiving awards included Chad Pickens, who was driving to work in his personal car in May when he saw a woman standing on the Broadway Bridge and looking over the edge.
Pickens, wearing street clothes, used his car to block the lane of traffic where the woman had parked her car on the bridge.
As he approached her, he asked if the car had broken down and she answered, “No, I am going to jump.”
Pickens grabbed her and restrained her until backup officers arrived.
Two other officers, Detective Robert Jorgenson and Officer Marcus Smith, received the department’s highest award, the medal of valor, for an incident last year in which they were fired on by a homicide suspect who was then killed by police gunfire.
The awards ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Kansas City Regional Police Academy, 6885 N.E. Pleasant Valley Road.