Waterloo officer's heroism honored

posted on Thursday, December 15, 2016 in  College News
By: Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO—A Waterloo police officer who was injured when his squad car was hit by an alleged drunk driver is being honored for his work.

Officer Mark Nissen is still recuperating, but he came by City Hall on Wednesday afternoon for a brief ceremony in which Chief Daniel Trelka bestowed him with the department’s medal of valor.

Trelka said he was contacted by a motorist on U.S. Highway 20 behind Nissen’s squad car when the suspect’s pick-up truck collided head-on with Nissen’s vehicle.

“The person commented that he felt Officer Nissen was beyond being a hero, for if Officer Nissen had not done what he did in stopping the suspect vehicle, this person would have been one of the next vehicles meeting the suspect vehicle,” Trelka said.

The crash happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 29. Authorities in Grundy County to the west of Waterloo had received several reports of a driver traveling east in the westbound lanes of Highway 20 around 4:30 a.m.

Nissen, who was on patrol, decided to look for the wrong-way driver and began traveling west on the highway. He passed one vehicle before coming upon the eastbound driver in the outside lane.

The oncoming driver veered into the inside lane, and Nissen moved to the inside lane, lights and sirens blaring, and stopped his squad car, and the oncoming pickup slammed into Nissen’s vehicle.

He radioed for an ambulance and, while injured, checked on the driver and passenger in the truck and took them to safety, away from passing traffic, Trelka said.

The pickup driver, Erik James Anderson, 27, of Iberia, Mo., was arrested for operating while intoxicated.

A Waterloo native, Nissen has been with the Waterloo Police Department since 2008. He graduated from Hawkeye Community College and served in the National Guard as a military police officer. Nissen worked for the La Porte City Police Department before coming to Waterloo.

In addition to being a patrol officer, Nissen has served with the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Waterloo department’s Violent Crime Apprehension Team.

He will likely return to duty in the coming weeks.


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