Local Trooper Receives National Recognition - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Trooper Receives National Recognition

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - A local Washington State Trooper is receiving national recognition. Trooper Kelly Kalmbach of Kennewick is one of four finalists for the United States Trooper of the Year Award.

What spurred her nomination started in a gas station parking lot. Last summer Trooper Kalmbach was arresting a drunk driver. But when she pulled out her handcuffs, he got out a handgun.

"The bullet came in here it came out here just above my elbow," Kelly Kalmbach, Washington State Patrol.   

What started as an arrest for a DUI quickly turned into gun battle. The driver fired 11 shots hitting Kalmbach in the arm and legs. But instead of backing down Kalmbach fired back.

"It was just as easy as waking up and brushing your teeth in the morning.  It's your training (that) kicks in. I didn't even realize I grabbed my gun and started shooting," said Kalmbach.   

She called for back up and troopers and deputies took out the shooter. But she realizes the story could be much different.

"I have a guardian angel some place protecting me absolutely," she said.   

Now the International Association of Chiefs of Police are honoring her as the 2006 Western Region Trooper of the Year, and one of the four finalists for national award. An honor her family said is no surprise.

"She does it all. She's always been my hero," said Dee Scharnhorst, Kalmbach's Stepmother. 

Although she's has limited use of her left hand. She's found ways to do the things she loves like cooking. And some day hopes to come back to work to protect and serve.

"It's the way I'm wired. I like to take care of things. I like to bring some type of order to chaos," Kalmbach said.  

Trooper Kalmbach will accept her award March 28th. She'll find out this fall if she's the country's trooper of the year.