Hero officer Rick Conn dies suddenly
by Jack Latta
LAKE WYLIE, S.C. — A former Prestonsburg Police officer, and Kentucky State Trooper recognized for his heroism in 2004 died suddenly Tuesday afternoon.
Rick Conn, 49, of Lake Wylie, S.C., formerly of Ivel, died suddenly Tuesday.
Conn, who began his career in law enforcement in 1984 with the Prestonsburg Police Department went on to become a trooper with the Kentucky State Police.
“He was on the auxiliary for quite a while before he became full-time,” said Prestonsburg Police Chief Mike Ormerod saying that Conn worked as a patrolman and detective. “Ricky was an excellent police officer when he was with us.
“He was a great guy, always had a joke to tell, and never met a stranger.”
In 2004, Conn was recognized for heroism and valor when, while off duty and returning home, Conn’s vehicle was rocked by a pipeline explosion near his home. The windows were blown out of his car by the force of the explosion, and his hands severely burned. Despite suffering second- and third-degree burns, Conn heard the screams coming from a nearby house, and ran into the building and rescued a woman and her child.
Jeannie Hamilton Newsome, the woman who along with her daughter Alexis, were pulled from the flames that day, says that she was very saddened to hear of Conn’s passing.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to his family,” said Newsome. “He was a wonderful man, and a hero.”
Newsome says Kentucky State Police has arranged for Alexis and her teammates on Betsy Layne Middle School girls’ basketball team to wear wrist bands that say KSP during their game in this week’s Right Beaver Classic. Alexis will wear a KSP patch on her uniform memorializing Conn’s heroism.
For his heroism, Conn received the Guthrie Crowe Award, was honored by the Kentucky House of Representatives and received a Medal of Valor from Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who hailed Conn because he “put the needs of others ahead of his own and saved two people.” Conn was also nominated in 2004 by the International Associationg of Police Chiefs along with four other candidates for the annual IACP Trooper of the Year Award.
According to Ormerod, the cause of Conn’s death have not been released, but preliminary reports suggest that he died of an aneurysm.
“Nobody knew, I don’t think he actually knew that he had a problem,” said Ormerod “He was getting some tests run when he died. It’s not anything anyone even remotely anticipated.”
Visitation for Trooper Conn is scheduled for 6 p.m., Friday, at J.W. Call Funeral Home, located in downtown Pikeville.
Funeral services will held at 1 p.m., Saturday, at J.W. Call Funeral Home, located in downtown Pikeville. Burial will follow the service at Davidson Memorial Gardens, at Ivel.
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