MDC Conservation Agent Donald Fessler receives Missouri Medal of Valor

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Agent Donald Fessler of Linn County received the Missouri Medal of Valor last week in Jefferson City for heroic actions he took last year while on patrol. The Missouri Medal of Valor is the highest award for recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

Early in the afternoon on June 27, 2022, the Missouri State Highway Patrol put out a radio call about a train derailment in Chariton County near Mendon. Agent Fessler responded to that call, and he arrived first on scene to the crash.  In his initial moments on the site, he was directed toward a ditch nearby the derailment by people who had exited the wreckage. Once there, he found a truck driver whose truck had been struck by the train. Agent Fessler began administering CPR, but he was unable to revive the victim. He then moved toward the main wreckage of the train to assess which injured parties needed immediate attention. Agent Fessler navigated the chaotic scene while searching for the most injured individuals first. During this time, he found Anthony Bryant, an Amtrack employee, whose arm had become trapped between the ground and the wreckage.

Agent Fessler used his first aid training to stop the bleeding from Bryant’s shoulder and worked to free the injured arm as best as possible. For about two hours, Agent Fessler remained with Bryant to keep him calm until the equipment needed to free Bryant’s arm could be brought to the scene. Eventually, Bryant was successfully removed from the wreckage and taken for further medical treatment at a local hospital. In the weeks after the crash, Agent Fessler was contacted by multiple train passengers who expressed their thanks for his response and actions at the scene of the crash.

“The decisions and actions that Agent Fessler made last summer embody the values that MDC holds as an organization,” said Lucas McClamroch, who is Agent Fessler’s supervisor. “Agent Fessler upheld his oath to protect and serve the citizens of Missouri, even at the risk of his own safety, and we couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe presented Agent Fessler his medal on Sept. 28.

“I feel very proud, honored, and grateful to have received the Medal of Valor award,” Agent Fessler shared. “I am also grateful to have had the training to help me succeed in life-saving efforts, especially at only nine months into my career. As a conservation agent, we often come across many accidents that are unimaginable, and the Amtrak accident was just that -- unimaginable.”

Agent Fessler was one of 10 individuals to receive a Medal of Valor this year.