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They Don’t Just Write Tickets: FHP Trooper Steven Howard Saves Woman’s Life on I-95

| January 29, 2014

The Florida Highway Patrol's Cpl. Steven Howard. (© FlaglerLive)

The Florida Highway Patrol’s Cpl. Steven Howard. (© FlaglerLive)

The Florida Highway Patrol’s Cpl. Steven Howard doesn’t often smile. He’s a homicide investigator, which means he sees the consequences and investigates the causes of some of the most violent road accidents on what are considered to be some of the nation’s most dangerous roads. At wreck scene—Howard is part of the FHP squad assigned to Flagler and St. Johns counties—he is all business: meticulous, thorough, impatient with anyone and anything that doesn’t have to do directly with the job at hand. His seriousness hides a wry sense of humor, not uncommon among homicide investigators who have seen it all.

On Wednesday, Howard, a 13-year veteran with FHP, had plenty of reasons to smile. He saved a 59-year-old woman’s life on the side of I-95, just north of the Palm Coast Parkway exit.

“I don’t call it exciting,” he said later in the afternoon, characteristically downplaying the incident. “I just call it doing my job.”

This morning FHP troopers were asked to patrol I-95 not to write tickets, but to be on the look-out for drivers in distress, or needing any sort of help, because of the weather. “They said we needed extra patrols out on the highway,” Howard said.

At 10:30 a.m. Howard was driving his cruiser northbound. He had just passed the Palm Coast Parkway exit, and was around mile marker 293, when he noticed a Grand Marquis in the grass, as if edging toward the wood-line in a strangely controlled maneuver. Something was amiss. Howard pulled over.

“When I walked up to the car,” he said, “I saw a woman in there. She seemed like she was sleeping, so I started knocking on the window. There was no response.”

The woman, Linda Lacorte of New Smyrna Beach, was not sleeping. But she was not well. Looking in from another angle, Howard could see her eyes rolled back. She was sweating profusely. The side of her mouth was drooping. He thought she was having a stroke. “Then she got into a seizure, a really violent seizure,” he said.

And the Grand Marquis’ doors were locked.


Howard retrieved his PR-24 baton. “I’m going to burst out the window and I’m yelling at her and yelling,” Howard said, describing how he was banging the baton against the window briefly, trying to catch Lacorte’s attention. “Based on the severity of what I was observing, I don’t know how bad it was going to get,” Howard said. But somehow,  “she’s able to look at me and finally open the door.”

The intensity of Lacorte’s seizure lessened and she tried to speak, but her words were slurred and the side of her moth distorted. “She thought that my banging on the window was someone who had crashed into her. She was that confused,” Howard said. Meanwhile he’d called a rescue unit and had contact with Randall Naugher, another FHP investigator also assigned to Flagler and St. Johns. Naugher was further south, but he saw the Flagler County Fire Rescue unit rush north on I-95 and was able to let Howard know the unit was on its way. He too soon got to the scene.

“It makes me feel good when you help people—and they’re alive,” Naugher, who sees his share of mayhem on the roads, said.

The rescue unit got to the scene within 10 minutes. Lacorte was taken to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, and was being taken to get scanned when Howard arrived there. Her condition was not known this afternoon.

Howard did not seek out the attention today: a reporter asked a colleague to reach him for an interview.

“We don’t always go out just to write tickets,” Howard said. “We do when we feel it’s necessary, but that’s not our sole function, and today is a perfect example.”

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11 Responses for “They Don’t Just Write Tickets: FHP Trooper Steven Howard Saves Woman’s Life on I-95”

  1. rickg says:

    Good work Corporal Howard. I am glad to see the FHP isn’t always about writing business…

  2. Most state troopers in every state are fine and well trained people that are trying to do their jobs to help people and to make the driving environment safe for all of us.

    It gets absolutely perverted when untrained city and state legislators set speed limits far below the safest point to set the limits and then send troopers out to become hated “road tax” collectors. This is NOT the troopers’ fault. They are required to enforce less-safe and artificially-low posted speed limit to produce revenue – sometimes at the risk of making the roads more dangerous.

    Almost all posted limits on main roads should be set at the 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions — NOT 10 or 15 mph below that level to facilitate lucrative speed traps.

    Florida has a pending bill to increase some Interstate limits to 75 mph and raise some other highway speed limits as well. This is a GOOD bill that would improve safety and reduce predatory speed traps. If you like these goals, call your state Representatives and Senators to insist they support the bill.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  3. deb says:

    thank you Cpl. Howard for saving that woman’s life.

  4. Florida Native. says:

    We could use more officers like Mr. Howard. I hope the lady is ok.

  5. Jack Stewart says:

    Great job ..we are lucky to have men like this working in Flagler County…Thank you

  6. Debbie Holmes says:

    Great job Steven, you are a true hero!

  7. Flagler Guy says:

    Being a state trooper, or any other law enforcement officer for that matter, is a thankless job.

    Sometimes the only time people talk about them is when the screw up or do something wrong. We forget that they put their lives on the line for us everyday. And we forget that they are our last line of defense when we are under threat like this woman was.

    Thank you trooper Howard. I for one greatly appreciate your service and dedication!

  8. Jack Howell says:

    Great job trooper!

  9. Rick says:

    First of all I kindly thank you, Cpl. Steven Howard, for a job well done & sadly a thankless one at that.
    I don’t believe I could be compensated for any of these patrolling positions with today’s society. I have to give these people credit for what they do. They never really know who’s behind the wheel or even so much as who’s in the car until they have them pulled over…..& then sometimes, unfortunately it’s too late.
    Personally I feel safer when I happen to see these patrols around on the highways. Despite the fact that I have a cell phone & carry it’s not always sufficient.

  10. Salute says:

    This dedicated officer needs to be a Lieutenant, let alone Sergent ….or Corporal

    Doing ones job in any law enforcement daily duty is commendable on any level..Certainly like he said, it’s all in a days work..BUT just that one time, makes all the difference and one Officer Howard showed.. For what he did. I salute you!

    If I were in an acciident, God for bid…I pray Officer Howard is near by…

  11. Geezer says:

    I appreciate the officer’s actions. But someone please ask him to smile
    or he’ll develop frown lines, and possibly strain facial muscles if he were
    to be unexpectedly amused one day.

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