All Our Fallen Heroes
Officer Alvin Foss, 23, was preparing to go on duty when his revolver fell from its holster, struck the concrete floor, and discharged a round that struck the officer in the head. The weapon apparently fell on the back of the handle, jarring the firing pin firmly enough to trigger the fatal bullet. Foss joined the CHP a year earlier and had recently transferred to duty on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from Los Angeles.
Cadet J. Harold Hanson was negotiating a curve during a motorcycle training exercise when an oncoming motorist, driving close to the center divider, caused the cadet to veer away sharply and lose control. Hansons motorcycle skidded in loose gravel and the cadet was thrown to the ground. Hanson, 36, died almost instantly. Cadet Hanson, like all cadets in that era, was sworn in when he reported for training. After 1977 recruits were classified as "state traffic officer cadets" for training purposes and did not become sworn officers until Academy graduation.
Officer William C. Foote, 33, was returning from a special traffic control assignment at the Salinas Rodeo when his motorcycle crashed head-on into another vehicle. Officers traveling with Foote believed a tire blowout or a crack in the pavement caused the patrolman to lose control and swerve into the path of the oncoming car. Foote, who joined the CHP in 1948, had just returned to the Patrol after a stint as a Marine Corps Reservist in the Korean War.
Officer Ralph A. Vargas was patrolling in a residential area when his patrol motorcycle collided with an automobile that abruptly made a left turn in front of his motorcycle. Vargas had no time to apply his brakes and crashed into the vehicle. The 26-year-old officer died just six hours after the accident. Vargas had joined the Patrol just two-and-a-half years earlier.
Officer John W. Armatoski was on an enforcement stop eastbound on U.S. Highway 66 west of Needles. After he completed the traffic citation, Armatoski was approaching the violators car on the left side when an intoxicated motorist, driving a stolen station wagon, sideswiped the parked vehicle and struck Armatoski. The patrol officer was killed instantly. Armatoski had been a member of the CHP for five years.
Officer Frank M. Epperson was apparently in pursuit of two speeding vehicles on what is now State Route 86 near the Riverside/Imperial County line. After a northbound pursuit of approximately ten miles Epperson attempted to pass a pickup, which suddenly started a left turn in front of the patrol car. Epperson tried to avoid a collision but the two vehicles collided, and the patrol car rolled several times before breaking a power pole and slamming into irrigation equipment. The 40-year-old patrolman died at the scene. Epperson had joined the CHP in 1948, but his duty was interrupted by service in the Korean War. He returned to the Patrol in 1952.
Officer William M. Chansler, 32, was off duty, but responded when a call came that an armed suspect had shot a waitress and was holding hostages in a Yreka restaurant. When Chansler arrived he ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. Instead, the felon swung the barrel of his rifle toward the patrolman and fired three shots. Chansler fell, mortally wounded, but returned fire and killed his assailant with one shot. He had been a CHP officer for five years and had only recently been transferred to Yreka from Ventura. Chansler was posthumously presented with a Certificate of Valor for heroism by Governor Goodwin J. Knight on October 15, 1954. Officer Chanslers daughter, Judy, worked as a CHP Dispatcher for several years and his grandson is CHP Officer Aaron York (14685).
Officer John C. La Mar was checking a vehicle hooked to a tow truck parked alongside U.S. Highway 99 near Bakersfield. He had set out flares to warn oncoming cars and was standing between the tow truck and the damaged vehicle, when a speeding motorist ran through the flares, plowed into the rear of the damaged car, and fatally injured La Mar. The 30-year-old patrolman was a former member of the Tulare Police Department and had served only two months with the CHP.
Officer James E. Maroney responded to a call for assistance put out by the Modoc County Sheriff in apprehending an armed suspect. As officers closed in, the suspect opened fire and Officer Maroney was killed during the ensuing gun battle. The 33-year-old patrolman had transferred to Alturas from Fresno just two months earlier.
Officer Charles D. Goss had just completed his investigation of a five-car collision. As he left the site, his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle attempting to pass a truck. Goss was killed instantly. The 39-year-old officer was a 1952 graduate of the CHP Academy and the Madera Area was his first assignment. Charges were filed against the driver for attempting to pass the truck without sufficient clearance.
Officer George A. Woodson was pursuing a Christmas-holiday speeder when his motorcycle skidded on rain-slicked pavement and crashed. A motorist found Woodson lying next to his motorcycle beside a chain-link fence that bordered the Santa Ana Freeway. The 32-year-old patrol officer was rushed to the hospital but died without regaining consciousness.
Officer Edward A. Frey was pursuing a speeder when the vehicle in front of him slowed to make a left turn. Frey was unable to stop and his motorcycle struck the vehicle ahead before glancing off into the path of an oncoming car. The 38-year-old patrol officer sustained critical internal injuries and died 10 days later.
Officer Raymond A. Geiger had just left his home to report for the graveyard shift when his motorcycle collided head-on with an automobile that was passing on a hill. Geiger, 28, died instantly from the impact. The accident happened so close to Geigers home that his wife, who heard the commotion, walked to the scene thinking her husband was handling the investigation. She was intercepted by another officer who was attempting to spare her the sight of the smashed motorcycle that belonged to her husband.
Officer Charles T. Smith stopped a vehicle for speeding on U.S. Highway 99 near Orland. Something suspicious apparently alerted him, and he decided to investigate further, not aware that the vehicles two occupants were AWOL Marines who had stolen the vehicle and been on a crime spree. As Smith frisked one man, the other opened fire from behind, hitting Smith three times in the back. Although mortally wounded, the officer managed to struggle to his feet and kill both suspects. Ironically, Smith himself had been a Marine MP before he joined the Patrol four years earlier.
Officer William Elza P. Fitzpatrick, Jr. spotted an abandoned vehicle wanted in connection with an armed robbery, called in his report and requested assistance. Fitzpatrick was continuing his investigation of the unoccupied vehicle when the vehicles driver returned in a taxi. As the patrol officer was questioning the suspect, the man reached for a revolver. Fitzpatrick grabbed the suspect but was fatally wounded in the struggle. Two deputies arrived on the scene and shot the suspect. The 45-year-old patrolman had served eight years with the Patrol. Prior to joining the CHP he had been Chief of Police for the city of Tulelake and served six years as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles.
Officer Carl H. Jessing was pursuing a speeding motorist along the Imperial Highway when he collided with a car that crossed in front of his motorcycle at Firestone Boulevard. Jessing was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered a broken leg and other injuries. Initially his condition did not appear life-threatening, but he died the following day from a pulmonary embolism caused by the collision. The 39-year-old patrolman had been a member of the CHP for three years.
Officer Robert E. Reed had stopped and arrested a motorist for a traffic violation after a high-speed pursuit along U.S. Highway 101 near Ventura. The suspect, who had become combative during his arrest, complained of an injured ankle so Reed was transporting him to the hospital instead of jail. As the suspect was being transferred from a gurney to the psychiatric ward, he jerked Reeds gun out of the holster and opened fire, killing the 36-year-old patrol officer. Reed was a four-year member of the CHP.
Officer Camile E. Madere was patrolling on his motorcycle through the city of Stanton. Madere was about to overtake and pass another vehicle when a tractor and semi-trailer pulled out of a driveway into the path of the officer and the vehicle he was going to pass. Both the patrolman and the motorist applied brakes in an attempt to avoid colliding with the truck. Maderes motorcycle skidded under the truck, killing the 35-year-old patrol officer instantly.
Officer Robert W. Suess was patrolling on Baldwin Avenue in the city of El Monte when a drunk driver speeding in the opposite direction careened through a red light, ran another car off the road, then abruptly swerved over the center line and struck Suess motorcycle. Witnesses said the 28-year-old officer had no chance to avoid the crash and was killed instantly. The driver was charged with manslaughter and felony drunk driving. Suess had served as a police officer with the Vallejo Police Department before joining the Patrol only nine months earlier.
State Police Officer Raymond V. OConnor was a passenger in a state police car driven by State Police Officer Daniel M. Murphy. The two officers had just completed a patrol of state property in San Jose and were returning to San Francisco on the Eastshore Freeway when a motorist driving in the opposing lane of traffic lost control, skidded 52 feet, jumped a divider strip and skidded another 30 feet before crashing into the state police vehicle. Murphy sustained major injuries and OConnor died just minutes after the crash, which also killed the motorist. Officer OConnor, 30, had served five years with the state police and had been a policeman with the city of Hayward before returning to state service.
Officer Joseph F. Johnston, Jr. was pursuing a traffic violator on Rosemead Boulevard when the suspect suddenly crossed two lanes of traffic without signaling and turned left in front of the patrolman. Johnston struck the left front side of the vehicle and he died a short time later. The motorist was charged with manslaughter. Officer Johnston, 31, had just been appointed to the Patrol the previous March and the El Monte Area was his first assignment.
Officer Robert B. Heberlie was patrolling on Rosemead Boulevard when a vehicle suddenly turned left, striking Heberlies motorcycle broadside, killing the 31-year-old patrol officer. The motorist was charged with felony drunk driving and manslaughter. Heberlie had joined the CHP only seven months earlier after leaving the Los Angeles Police Department. The El Monte Area office was his first CHP assignment.
Officer Herbert F. Dimon was pursuing a speeding car in East Los Angeles when his motorcycle collided
at an intersection with a motorist who ignored or did not see the red light or hear the siren. Dimon was wearing a
safety helmet, but the impact killed the 28-year-old officer instantly. Officer Dimon had graduated from the Academy
just four months earlier. Only hours before his death, he had received a letter from a citizen he cited a few days
Officer George E. Kallemeyn had been pursuing hot-rod cyclists along a narrow twisting mountain trail in Contra Costa County. Kallemeyn was returning to the main road when a portion of the trail gave way beneath his motorcycle and Kallemeyn plummeted down the side of the canyon. The patrol officer was not found until the next day when rescuers located him in the brush, pinned under his motorcycle. Kallemeyn, 30, was immediately rushed to the hospital but died of his injuries. He had served four years with the CHP.
Officer Leonard W. Winney was pursuing a speeding motorist on the Santa Ana Canyon Road in Orange County when his motorcycle crashed into a heavy gravel truck that made a left turn across the highway. The truck driver, according to investigators, did not see the motorcycle and the officer did not have time to stop. Winney, 27, was a member of the CHP for three years and had served two years in the Anaheim Area office.
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