McGrath Honors Rancher for Assisting Patrol
BILLINGS — Attorney General Mike McGrath on Friday presented Park City rancher David Robertus with a Montana Highway Patrol Colonel’s Meritorious Service Award. Robertus was honored for assisting Patrol Officer David Munson in arresting a Colorado couple wanted for a string of carjackings.
On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 2, after a weekend of allegedly stealing vehicles and threatening drivers, Francine Martinez and Timothy DeHerrera, Jr. stole a 1999 Chevy Cavalier in Laurel while the vehicle’s 16-year-old driver warmed the car. Munson was pursuing Martinez and DeHerrera when the vehicles passed Robertus on Old Highway 10.
Soon after they passed Robertus, Martinez and DeHerrera slid off the snowy highway into an icy ditch. Martinez and DeHerrera tried to get the vehicle “unstuck” and ignored Munson’s order to get out of the car. After asking Munson if he needed help, Robertus pulled his two-ton truck in front of the stolen vehicle, blocking its exit.
As Officer Munson subdued the driver, Martinez got out of the car and ran across the field. Robertus chased her and, once she was out of breath, led her back to the patrol car.
“It is my pleasure and privilege this morning to honor David Robertus for his uncommon courage and his sense of civic duty,” McGrath said. “On that cold Sunday morning earlier this month, he could have driven on home, but he didn’t. He saw an officer alone in a rural area and stopped to help.”
The Cavalier was allegedly the pair’s fourth stolen car of the weekend. The carjackers’ spree apparently began in Colorado Springs on Friday, Jan. 31, when they allegedly took a 1990 Dodge minivan. Martinez and DeHerrera also allegedly stole a pickup in Wheatland, Wyo., a Chrysler LeBaron in a Billings Wal-Mart parking lot and, ultimately, the Cavalier.
Montana Highway Patrol Colonel Shawn Driscoll praised Robertus but admitted the case was an unusual one.
“The Patrol is grateful for people like Mr. Robertus, but we certainly never want to put a civilian in jeopardy,” Driscoll said. “Normally we do not encourage civilian involvement in a potentially dangerous situation. In this case, however, the pursuit had ended, Officer Munson was alone and he clearly needed assistance.”
Munson nominated Robertus for the award, saying that Robertus “is definitely … in a hero class.” Driscoll said the Colonel’s Meritorious Service Awards are presented to civilians who help in emergency situations, usually at accident or rescue scenes.