Patrol honors trio for aiding trooper
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Armando Bencomo still doesn’t consider himself a hero for his actions helping save a state trooper last October.
That trooper, the Colorado State Patrol and Bencomo’s kids see things differently.
On Thursday morning, the CSP bestowed its Civilian Certificate of Honor on Bencomo and two other men who came to the aid of Brian Koch on Oct. 24. The award is the highest honor the CSP gives to private citizens.
“I don’t think I’m a hero. I was there just at the right time, at the right place,” Bencomo said in an interview after being given a plaque and CSP coin by top State Patrol officials in a ceremony at the AmericInn in Glenwood Springs.
Koch said Bencomo and Cruz Figueroa-Alvarez played a crucial role in applying a tourniquet to his arm and controlling his bleeding.
“That truly, I believe, saved my life, their help,” Koch said.
Koch and Bencomo shook hands at the awards ceremony after meeting for the first time since the Oct. 24 shooting.
The CSP also honored Paul Limbach, who lives near where the shooting took place. Limbach rushed to the scene and helped Bencomo and Figueroa-Alvarez give emergency dispatchers information on the location of the shooting.
The men acted in a risky situation because the shooter, Steven Appl, remained on the loose, said Major Michael King, the CSP district commander in Grand Junction. He said they intervened while “not knowing where he had gone and what he had done.”
Although Bencomo acknowledges that he worried about where the gunman was as he attended to Koch, he said he didn’t think twice about helping.
“I think every normal person would act the same way,” he told the three dozen or so CSP personnel who watched as he received his award.
The ceremony was brief, with Bencomo explaining, “I’ve got to go back to work.” He owns a heating and cooling company. Neither Figueroa-Alvarez nor Limbach was able to make Thursday’s ceremony. All three live in the Silt area.
Bencomo said he never expected to receive an award for his efforts, but he appreciates the recognition.
“I think it made me feel a part of this county, this society,” he said.
Both Bencomo, 42, and Figueroa-Alvarez, who is in his early 20s, are from Mexico. Bencomo moved here in 1987, and Figueroa-Alvarez a few years ago.
Bencomo said he has had people he doesn’t know approach him at the bank, gas stations and elsewhere about his actions.
“They say, ‘You’re the guy that helped the police, the trooper,'” Bencomo said.
The assistance he provided and the attention it has garnered also have gone over well with his children.
“They like it; you know how children are,” he said.
Bencomo and Figueroa-Alvarez helped Koch after happening upon the shooting scene on the Rifle-Silt Road southwest of Silt while driving home from Grand Junction. They saw Koch trying to open the door of his patrol car with his uninjured arm.
Koch said he was surprised and fortunate that the two men came along so quickly on the quiet county road late at night. He said they spoke limited English, but he motioned to them that he needed a tourniquet applied to his arm. Bencomo credited Figueroa-Alvarez with playing a crucial role, first using a shoelace as a tourniquet and then replacing it with Bencomo’s belt and keeping it tight. The two also used a cell phone to call for help.
Bencomo said he still doesn’t feel like a lifesaver.
“We were just helping. I think there is somebody upstairs taking care of everybody,” he said.
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