Travis County sheriff’s office recognizes local heroes
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Senior Deputy Jennifer Boland received numerous commendations at the April 30 Travis County Sheriff’s Office Awards Ceremony. Boland serves on the TCSO Lake Unity and patrols Lake Travis from Mansfield Dam to Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area.



Although Jennifer Boland has only served one year in the Travis County sheriff’s office Lake Unit, the senior deputy has made quite a mark on the region that patrols Lake Travis, from Mansfield Dam to Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area.

TCSO honored private citizens as well as patrol officers and staff members at its annual awards ceremony April 30 at Westlake High School’s Performing Arts Center.

Boland received commendations in numerous categories including a Life Saving Bar, Meritorious Conduct Bar, Law Enforcement Bureau Employee of the Year and a unit citation as a member of Law Enforcement Bureau’s Special Response Team.

Cited among Boland’s courageous actions is her response to a July 22 airplane crash on Lake Travis.

“When we actually saw the plane go down, I questioned it,” Boland said. “I said, ‘Oh my gosh, did that plane just go down?’”

She and partner Senior Deputy Mike Spinner were in their boat about 400 yards away from the crash site, Boland said. The pair got to the plane as fast as they could, and Boland noticed one passenger, a female, was climbing out of the plane but without a life jacket, so she focused on this victim first, she said.

As Boland and Spinner moved closer to the scene, the plane began to tilt as the result of neighboring boats moving collectively toward the accident and creating a wake, Boland said.

The plane caught a wake and rolled over, sending its cockpit underwater, she said.

“When that happened, the female really freaked out,” Boland said. “She lunged at me. I knew we were in depths of about 120 feet, so I knew my time was limited, and I had to get to her fast.”

With sunglasses and tennis shoes on, Boland said she jumped into the water as her partner ran to get their floatation cushion from the boat.

“He threw [the cushion] to me, and I was able to prop her up on it and got her calmed down,” she said.

Another TCSO boat arrived on the scene and the officers “started plucking people out of the water,” Boland said.

To make matters worse, one of the rental boats in the area rushed to the scene so quickly its crew hit Boland and Spinner’s boat while the pair was tending to the plane crash victims, she said.

“Luckily, it all came to a good ending,” Boland said. “The plane did crash but nobody was really seriously injured.”

She said she did not fear for her life during the event.

“I just sprang into action,” Boland said. “I only had a limited amount of time to get to [the passenger without a life jacket]. When people are frantic in the water, it doesn’t take long for them to go under.”

Boland and other officers with ties to Lake Travis and Westlake areas received the TCSO Lifesaving Award, presented to an employee or citizen for saving a life or actions that prolong a human life, said emcee Noelle Newton Shrader, director of Campus Safety Communications for the University of Texas police.

On Sept. 18, 2014, Rollingwood police officer Josh Odom saw a car go past a barricade on Bee Cave Road into rushing flood waters from Eanes Creek, Shrader said.

Odom was swept away as he tried to help the driver, she said. Multiple agencies responded to assist, including award recipient Senior Deputy James Fram who assisted Odom to safety, Shrader said. Although Odom was taken to the hospital in critical condition with water in his lungs and a hand fracture, he made a recovery, she said.

“It was a huge blessing to know Austin Police Department came from their jurisdiction, Mustang Ridge and TCSO,” Odom said. “They dropped whatever they were doing and headed over [to Eanes Creek].”

Boland, along with other fellow deputies, was involved in an Aug. 20 incident involving attempts to rescue a man who fell from the cliffs above Devil’s Cove into Lake Travis, efforts that also earned her the Lifesaving Award.

The department’s Lifesaving Award was given to Senior Deputy Edmond G. Kunz who, on April 24, 2017, successfully talked a suicide suspect off the Mansfield Dam bridge.

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