Truck driver jumps in to rescue Wyoming trooper

June 4, 2018

Wendy Parker


It’s not often you receive a compliment on your choke hold. Especially in the break-down lane of Interstate 80, after helping a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer regain control of a potentially deadly situation.

Driver Darren Phillips got the compliment, but not from Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Phillips, a tanker yanker, hauls out of Richfield, Utah, for Sevier Valley Oil Co. Last Thursday, a regular eastbound route across I-80 through Wyoming became an extraordinary one that Darren likely will never forget.

“I was topping a little hill there at Green River, noticed a trooper with lights and all, had someone pulled over,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line on Monday.

Phillips said he moved over to the left lane as he approached the vehicle, but stopped when he saw the trooper and another man engaging in a desperate struggle. He pulled his truck over in road beside the trooper’s vehicle and rushed to his aid just as the pair went to the ground.

“As I got a little closer, I saw what looked like a tussle – they were grabbing at each other, it just didn’t look right,” he said. “When the trooper saw me he said, ‘He’s going for my gun!’ That’s when I looked and saw both of them had their hand on his pistol.

“I didn’t even think twice. I knew I had to help this trooper.”

At that moment, Phillips said the 20-plus years of military service and training with both the United States Marine Corps and the Army National Guard over-rode any thoughts he might have had to do anything other than render assistance.

“I know how to get someone in a choke hold, so I got behind the guy and got a good one on him, and just stood up and leaned back,” he said. “I fell on my back, and he landed on top of me. He started trying to reach around and hit me, and I told him, ‘You better just stop, or I’m gonna put you out.’ I had him locked up good, he wasn’t going anywhere.”

Back-up law enforcement arrived momentarily and Mr. Phillips quickly found himself on the bottom of a dog pile.

“They finally got him cuffed and all, I still had a hold of him,” he said. “I asked if it was OK for me to let him go as they were pulling him up to put him in the ambulance, and of course they said yes, and I let him go.”

Wyoming Highway Patrol is not releasing the name of the trooper involved, however, Lt. Ben Schlosser, District 3 supervisor at the Rock Springs Post, issued a very healthy thank-you to Darren on behalf of Wyoming Highway Patrol as a whole.

“I agree with the statement that he’s a hero,” Schlosser said by phone Monday. “We appreciate Mr. Phillips going over and above. He’s a stand-up guy, and a very nice man to work with. Things absolutely could have gone a lot worse if he hadn’t stepped up.”

So who complimented him on the choke-hold? Darren tells the proverbial ”rest of the story.

“After they got us all untangled and were taking him off in handcuffs, the guy looked at me and said, ‘Nice choke hold.'”

And that’s not something you hear every day.