All Our Fallen Heroes
Officer Samuel G. Cope was patrolling near the city limits of West Covina when an automobile swung into his line of traffic and crashed head-on into Cope's motorcycle. Initially his injuries were believed to be non-threatening, but complications developed and he died. Cope was a member of the Los Angeles Police Department before joining the CHP in 1935.
Officer William F. Malin was returning to his beat - a two-lane highway near Los Angeles - after serving on a CHP motorcycle escort team during a parade celebrating Independence Day, 1940. A speeding motorist cutting through traffic crushed Malin against a walled section of the highway. He had been a member of the Patrol for six years.
Officer Maurice W. Owen was traveling north on Highway 99 responding to an emergency call. A car made a left turn in front of his motorcycle, and he was thrown over the vehicle's hood, sliding 20 feet on his back and sustaining lacerations and internal injuries. In the true spirit of a traffic officer, he got to his feet, pulled out his citation book and handed the driver a ticket for reckless driving. Only then did he seek medical treatment. A month later, he was pursuing a speeder and was again injured when he slid his motor to avoid colliding with a car. Owen insisted on returning to work after each incident, but after several weeks of intense suffering, checked into a hospital where he died from a blood clot which formed as a result of internal injuries. Officer Owen, 42, joined the San Joaquin County Motor Patrol in 1927 and the Highway Patrol in 1929 where he served 11 years.
Officer M. Paul Mengedoth was on routine patrol riding his motorcycle through the tunnel of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge when a vehicle crossed the center divider directly into his path and struck his motorcycle head-on. Officer Mengedoth, 30, was killed instantly.
Officer Leslie Lauterwasser, 30, was patrolling at midnight near Tiburon on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge when a vehicle he was following abruptly made a U-turn. Lauterwasser's motorcycle crashed broadside into the automobile, killing the patrolman instantly. The driver was jailed and charged with drunk driving and negligent homicide.
Officer Robert C. Heller was struck and killed when a motorist failed to stop at an intersection and collided with Heller's motorcycle. The driver of the vehicle was booked on suspicion of negligent homicide. The \ 25-year-old patrolman had graduated from the Academy only five months earlier.
Officer Scott Leatherman was pursuing a speeding motorist on a road near Newhall when the wheel of his motorcycle apparently developed a high-speed wobble, causing Leatherman to lose control and crash. The 29-year-old patrolman was a member of the CHP for only one year.
Officer Eliot O. Daley, 26, was killed only three weeks after graduating from the CHP Academy. Daley, on his first duty assignment with partner Officer Clarence Miller, was patrolling a four-lane highway near the Carquinez Bridge when a vehicle swerved diagonally across the double center line into the path of the patrol car. The force of the crash was such that the patrol car rolled over and collided with a third vehicle, killing Daley and seriously injuring Miller. Investigation determined that the at-fault driver was under the influence.
Sergeant Emmett L. Elmore, a veteran of 23 years of police and traffic officer service, received his promotion in rank to sergeant less than one year before his death. Elmore, 62, had joined the Stanislaus County Traffic Squad in 1925 and became a CHP officer when the California Highway Patrol absorbed the county units in 1929.
Officer Clinton Benjamin was on routine patrol when his motorcycle skidded, causing the patrolman to lose control. Benjamin was thrown to the ground and died from his injuries.
Officer Joseph A. Stucker was performing a vital war-time duty escorting a military convoy when his motorcycle was sideswiped by a truck that was attempting to pass. Stucker died at the scene. The 31-year-old patrolman had been a member of the CHP for six years.
Officer Walter C. Maxey was making a left turn off U.S. Highway 6 near Newhall when his motorcycle kickstand dropped, dug into the pavement and sent the motorcycle into a sharp spin. Maxey was thrown violently to the ground and sustained fatal injuries. He had been a member of the CHP for seven years.
Officer Frederick Wales was patrolling on his motorcycle when he spotted a speeding motorist. Wales initiated a high-speed pursuit of the speeder, but lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.
Sergeant George E. Ellis, Jr. was killed by a reckless driver who ran a stop sign and crashed into the side of Ellis' patrol unit, striking it with such force that the patrol car was knocked 148 feet and rolled twice from the point of impact. A Sacramento County grand jury indicted the driver on charges of negligent homicide.
Officer Nelson S. Dwelly was patrolling with CHP Officer J.C. Glass when Glass saw the wheel of Dwelly's motorcycle start to wobble and then the motorcycle turned over several times with Dwelly still in the seat. The 37-year-old patrol officer had been a member of the CHP for less than one year.
Officer Forrest C. Gerken was on motorcycle patrol nearing the intersection of Oak Grove Avenue and the Bay Shore Highway when the driver of a pickup truck turned across the corner of an intersection and crashed head-on into the patrolman. Officer Gerken was killed instantly. Gerken had entered the patrol in 1942 and died just two days before his 46th birthday. He served on the Bay Bridge prior to transferring to San Mateo. Officer Forrest Gerken's son is retired CHP Officer Cliff Gerken (3778).
Sergeant Forest M. Underwood was shot and killed by a criminal wanted for kidnapping and robbery. Underwood was writing a parking citation when a taxi abruptly pulled alongside. The driver jumped out, shouting excitedly that a robber was inside his cab. The suspect immediately opened fire, felling Underwood with two shots. Though mortally wounded, the patrol officer returned fire but his shots missed the assailant. While he lay dying, Underwood noted the license number of the getaway car and a description of the murderer at the bottom of the parking citation he had been writing.
Officer John A. Reed had activated his red light and siren and begun his pursuit of a speeding automobile when he collided with a vehicle that turned left in front of his motorcycle. Reed was critically injured and died the following day. The 35-year-old patrol officer had joined the CHP in 1941 after prior service as a state police officer in Sacramento
Officer Lewis W. Gregg collided with a vehicle that turned suddenly in front of the motorcycle officer without signaling. Gregg was killed almost instantly. The 40-year-old patrol officer had joined the CHP two years earlier after previously working as a clerk in the traffic court in the city of San Diego.
Officer George A. Humburg and a fellow officer were attempting to arrest a drunken driver when the belligerent suspect scuffled with Humburg. After making the arrest, Humburg complained of feeling ill and collapsed while being sped to a hospital. He suffered a heart attack and died before reaching the hospital. Officer Humburg was a 14-year member of the Highway Patrol.
Officer David R. Henderson was killed when his motorcycle collided with an automobile driven by a motorist who pulled into his lane of traffic after deliberately passing a bus that had stopped to load and unload passengers. Henderson, 33, joined the CHP in 1942 after serving two years with the Burbank Police Department. He had also previously served as a Deputy Fish and Game Warden with the County of Los Angeles.
Officer Raymond H. Berry, 50, was concluding his shift when he suffered a fatal cerebral hemmorhage. Berry, a 16-year CHP veteran, had previously served with the San Jose City Police Department and had been a member of the Santa Clara County Squad before it was absorbed by the CHP in 1929.
Officer Norman A. Kessler was pursuing a traffic violator when his motorcycle developed a high-speed wobble after striking a rough spot in the highway pavement. Kessler lost control and skidded 200 feet before crashing. The 36-year-old patrol officer was killed almost instantly. Kessler had served in Tulare County since graduating from the CHP Academy in 1942.
Officer James B. Dalziel was returning from duty on the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge shortly after midnight when a vehicle drove directly in front of his motorcycle. The collision killed the patrolman instantly. Dalziel was a 28-year veteran of law enforcement service that began in 1917 with the San Mateo County Motor Patrol and continued uninterrupted when the county unit merged with the CHP. The 55-year-old patrolman had served on the Bay Bridge since 1941.
Officer James H. VandeWeg was responding to an emergency call when a truck pulled directly in his path. VandeWeg was unable to stop and his motorcycle crashed into the truck. The 30-year-old officer suffered critical injuries and died just hours later. VandeWeg had previously served with the Redondo Beach Police Department and with the Burbank Police Department until joining the CHP in 1943.
Officer Harold E. Nichols' motorcycle skidded and crashed when it ran across a slippery area of the road. Nichols was killed instantly. The 42-year-old patrolman had served continuously in Kern County since joining the CHP in 1930. The 15-year CHP veteran held numerous medals for expert marksmanship.
Officer Loren C. Roosevelt was on Los Feliz Boulevard enroute to his home in Glendale when he observed a man behaving suspiciously and called him over to his patrol car. The suspect complied, but suddenly pulled a revolver and shot the patrolman nine times at close range. Although mortally wounded, Roosevelt gave investigating officers a detailed description of the gunman before he died. He had been a patrolman since 1943.
Officer Frank J. Maus, 35, was pursuing a speeder on Stocker Avenue and was rounding a curve when his motorcycle hit the soft shoulder and overturned several times, throwing him to the ground. Maus was a five-year member of the CHP and had just returned to duty after spending three years with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.
Officer Stephen W. Sodel, 48, was kidnapped and murdered by a motorist he had apparently stopped for suspicion of car theft. Sodel was assigned to check light and brake testing stations and when his patrol car was found abandoned, an intense search ensued which led a few days later to the discovery of Sodel's body. A suspect was later captured, tried and convicted for the murder of Officer Sodel.
Officer Richard L. Simpson, 30, was responding to the scene of an automobile accident in Porterville when a motorist turned in front of the officer and struck his motorcycle broadside. The impact flung the patrolman to the ground, killed him almost instantly. The driver was jailed and booked for manslaughter. Simpson, a World War II veteran, had recently returned to duty with the department after three years of service in the U.S. Army.
Officer William L. Reardon was stopped on his motorcycle monitoring traffic on U.S. Highway 99 near Newhall when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Reardon, 52, was a 14-year veteran of the Highway Patrol. He had previously served with the Glendale Police Department and the Los Angeles County Traffic Squad before becoming a member of the CHP in 1932 when the state absorbed the Los Angeles County Squad.
Officer John R. Walters was pursuing a vehicle at high-speed on U.S. Highway 99, south of Bakersfield when a motorist headed the opposite direction crossed three lanes of traffic and crashed head-on into Walters' motorcycle, killing the 36-year-old officer instantly. A charge of manslaughter was brought against the other driver.
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