By Steve Ranson

Special to MCIN

Steve Ranson
NHP Sgt. Brian Cavanaugh, left, of Fallon receives his Sergeant of the Year award from Lt. Blair Harkleroad. Cavanaugh was a deputy for Mineral County Sheriff’s Office.

Three troopers with Fallon ties have been recognized for their achievements in the Nevada Highway Patrol’s Northern Command.

Sgt. Brian Cavanaugh, who leads the Fallon office, is this year’s Sergeant of the Year for the Northern Command. Cavanaugh, who grew up in California and attended California State University at Fresno, became interested in law enforcement and applied to the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office in 2005. Three years later, he joined the NHP and spent seven more years in Mineral County before transferring to Fallon in 2017.

Cavanaugh said he brings a level of communication to his staff and between his command and the Fallon troopers.

“I feel I have a pretty good rapport with my superiors,” Cavanaugh said, adding he also has a good relationship with the troopers he supervises.

Trooper Anthony “Tony” Bake grew up in Fallon and has been with the local office since 2015.

“He’s very level-headed, very personal,” Bake said of his sergeant. “He has good information to share with us.”

Cavanaugh said he enjoys working in the smaller counties, and in the future, he said an idea position would be that of lieutenant supervising the rural offices in Churchill, Lyon, Mineral and Pershing counties. Lovelock, the county seat of Pershing County, is being relocated to the Northern Command, and Cavanaugh said Tonopah is switching to the Elko Command to even out the communities in each command.

Nevertheless, he said the rural areas offer much diversity.

“Rural Nevada is a lot of fun,” Cavanaugh said. “There are many hardworking people out here.”

Cavanaugh said the Fallon and Fernley offices have many young troopers doing great things and becoming involved with their respective communities.

Bake, a 1999 Churchill County High School graduate, has been recognized with the NHP’s Humanitarian Award. He began his career with the Department of Public Service in Parole and Probation. The Fallon grad transferred to the NHP in2012 and was assigned to Lovelock before transferring to Fallon.

Bake said he enjoys his involvement with the Fallon community.

“The award is secondary,” he said.

Cavanaugh said Bake volunteers his time with the various schools and community and notes his trooper’s productivity by balancing his time and involvement.

Cavanaugh said Bake is a positive force in the community as he participates in food drives, Halloween safe trick or treating and hospital community days and also visits local schools to give safety talks.

“In the small rural communities, events like trunk or treating and school presentations carry a lot of weight as we are viewed as ambassadors for the state of Nevada,” Cavanaugh stated in his letter of nomination.

One of the highest profiled annual events is the city of Fallon’s downtown Halloween festivities that attract thousands of people dressed up in their ghoulish best.

“Trooper Bake handed out candy that was purchase with his own money,” Cavanaugh added. “The Churchill County event allowed Trooper Bake to showcase the highway patrol vehicles while handing out candy.”

Cavanaugh said Bake goes above and beyond for his community, and his involvement is reflected in his service, both on and off duty.

Investigation of the Year went to Sgt. Chris Kelly, a 1991 CCHS graduate. Kelly has been with the NHP for 24 years.

An early May 2018 incident put the NHP’s best investigators to work. A 10-vehcile crash between Reno’s Wells Avenue and the Spaghetti Bowl involved a semi-trailer that overturned, blocking Interstate 80’s eastbound lanes for almost four hours. Eleven people were injured, five seriously.

“Myself and 11 different other people gathered information from the scene,” Kelly said. “We interviewed 12 and took 11 statements. Then we analyzed and pieced them together.”

The investigation spread out over two weeks, and Kelly and the other investigators presented their conclusion.

“An unsafe lane change started a chain reaction,” Kelly said of the investigation. “The driver (of a passenger car) was not paying attention.”

Trooper Matt McLaughlin, the Norther Command’s public information officer, said the truck driver flipped his rig while trying to avoid the car. He said the truck was carrying canned goods, and crews were called to clean fuel from the interstate before it could reopen hours after the crash.