All Our Fallen Heroes
Officer James C. O'Connor was returning from quarterly motorcycle training and riding in a four-man formation with three other CHP motorcycle officers on a two-lane mountainous road. O'Connor, riding in the outer-rear position, was making a sharp curve on State Highway 154 when an elderly motorist crossed the center line and struck Officer O'Connor head-on. Although the other officers immediately began emergency medical treatment, the 34-year-old patrolman died at the scene. O'Connor had been a member of the CHP for eight years and was assigned to the West Valley Area before transferring to Ventura a year earlier. Officer O'Connor is survived by his wife, Carla, also a CHP Officer.
Officer Fidel Aleman was driving to the Central Los Angeles Office to report for his shift that began at 9:30 p.m. when a pickup made an unsafe lane change directly in front of him. Aleman flashed his lights at the driver and the pickup slowed, then the driver began to follow the patrolman with his high beams glaring. When the pickup continued to follow the officer after he exited the freeway, Aleman decided to confront the driver. As Aleman stepped out of his car, the suspect driver slowly drove along the left side of the officer, then raised a gun and fired one shot through the truck's passenger window. Aleman was shot in the chest, fell back in the driver's seat and fired one round at the suspect as he was speeding away. Officer Aleman, 33, and a member of the CHP for eight years, died 20 minutes later.
Officer John N. McVeigh, Jr. was responding to an injury collision when he lost control of his patrol car as it rounded a curve. McVeigh's patrol car spun into the opposing lane of traffic where it was struck broadside by an oncoming pick-up. Although McVeigh was securely belted in his seat and his air bag deployed, the force of the impact killed the 38-year-old officer instantly. Officer McVeigh was a 13-year veteran of the CHP and a 1992 King City Officer of the Year.
Sergeant John L. Steel was riding his motorcycle on Irvine Boulevard at 4:20 a.m. when a vehicle crossed over the 14-foot-wide center median and crashed head-on into Steel's motorcycle. Sergeant Steel was propelled into the vehicle's windshield and thrown to the pavement. Although two motorists stopped to render aid, Steel did not survive. Sergeant Steel, 47, was a 21-year CHP veteran and a member of the Santa Ana protective services unit that had escorted world leaders such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and U.S. Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan. The 25-year-old motorist was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter, driving without a driver's license and having no insurance.
Officer Larry J. Jaramillo was returning to his Air Operations unit after completing a court appearance in Inyo County when his patrol car collided with a truck that was stopped in traffic near a construction site on U.S. Highway 395. The impact of the crash killed Jaramillo instantly. The 42-year-old officer was an eight-year member of the CHP and was selected in 1989 to serve as a fixed-wing aircraft pilot in Inland Division's Air Operations Unit. Officer Jaramillo was honored as the 1993 "Officer of the Year" by the Latino Peace Officers Association. He also received an award for his heroic rescue of two young men who were stranded. Officer Jaramillo is survived by his wife, Officer June Jaramillo (11901).
Officer Richard A. Maxwell was attempting to make an enforcement stop on a suspected stolen vehicle when the vehicle pulled into a residential
driveway. The two occupants, later identified as a father and son who lived at the residence, exited the vehicle and both became combative with
the officer. The son ran to the suspect vehicle and retrieved a shotgun, with Maxwell following. While Maxwell was struggling with the son, the
father retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun from the garage and opened fire on the unsuspecting officer. Officer Maxwell was first shot in the face
while he was returning fire. He stumbled to the ground and the suspect fired above his neck line which ultimately killed him. The officer
returned fire (12 rounds), but none of his shots hit his assailants, and the suspects fled. Two CHP officers arrived, spotted Maxwell slumped in
the driveway, brought him to a place of cover and immediately began first aid. Maxwell's wounds proved too severe and the 33-year-old officer
died just minutes later. Officer Maxwell had been a member of the CHP for five years. Originally, the two suspects were arrested, tried and
convicted of murder. However, the father who was sentenced to first-degree murder, AFTER EXHAUSTING HIS APPEALS IN THE STATE COURTS, filed a
subsequent appeal IN FEDERAL COURT and a new trial was granted. He was tried by the Kern County DA's office twice with hung juries, with the
third trial held in Santa Maria with a verdict voluntary manslaughter. Due to the 12 years served, the judge ordered him immediately released.
The juvenile was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the Youth Authority until age 25 and is currently out.
Officer Bruce T. Hinman was on routine motorcycle patrol on State Route 170 at U.S. Highway 101 when he stopped to assist a disabled motorist. A drunk driver traveling at 60 m.p.h. along U.S. Highway 101 attempted to change routes by driving over a raised berm, then across the freeway and onto the dirt shoulder where he crashed into the disabled vehicle. The impact spun the disabled vehicle around, striking the motorist, who was using the freeway call box, and knocking Officer Hinman to the ground. The car came to rest with its rear wheels on top of the officer's chest, suffocating him. Officer Hinman, 34, was placed on life support but died a week later. He was a nine-year member of the CHP and was assigned to the West Valley Area office directly after graduating from the Academy.
Officer Artie J. Hubbard was on his dinner break the evening of April 5, 1985 when he heard an 11-99 call ("officer needs help"). Hubbard was responding to the call when his patrol car failed to negotiate a curve, slid off the roadway and struck a utility pole broadside. The driver's door on the patrol car took the full impact and the patrol officer suffered extensive injuries, including severing his spinal column. Hubbard was placed on life-support and survived. For the next 10 years his parents took care of him in their home, but he was limited to communicating through eye movement. Officer Hubbard died on December 8, 1995. At the time of the accident, he was a 10-year member of the CHP and had served in the Central Los Angeles and South Sacramento Area offices. Officer Hubbard was the brother of Officer Michael Hubbard (9579).
Officer David W. Manning was riding his CHP motorcycle on his way home from work at 10:30 p.m. on January 15, 1996 when he was involved in a solo motorcycle collision. Manning was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered severe head trauma. He remained in a coma and died on February 15, 1996. Officer Manning had been one of the first officers assigned to the "new" Bakersfield Area motor squad when it was reactivated after a 25-year absence. The 31-year-old patrol officer liked to carry candy canes with him to hand out to children he encountered. At the scene of his fatal collision, Manning's motorcycle was on its side and scattered all around him were his candy canes. Officer Manning was a member of the CHP for eight years and served in East Los Angeles and Bakersfield.
Officer Don J. Burt stopped a motorist for a traffic violation in the city of Fullerton and discovered the man's license was suspended; he then attempted to impound the man's vehicle. Burt requested a tow truck and started inventorying the vehicle's contents when the driver exited the car, began a physical confrontation with the officer, then pulled a 9mm pistol and opened fire. Officer Burt was shot six times, but his safety vest prevented fatal wounds. Burt was lying on his back on the ground when the gunman walked up and fired a seventh time - the fatal shot - to the officer's head, killing him instantly. Officer Burt, 25, had been a CHP officer for 15 months. When he graduated from the Academy in April 1995, his father Sergeant Don R. Burt (6889) had pinned on his badge. Burt's killer fled from the scene in Officer Burt's patrol vehicle, but was apprehended two days later in Texas and extradited to California. The killer was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Officer Reuben F. Rios was directing traffic as it left a concert at the Glen Helen Pavilion by Interstate 15 when an intoxicated motorist accelerating for a lane change struck Rios. The patrol officer was thrown onto the hood, then into the windshield and fell to the pavement with head and internal injuries. Fellow officers immediately rushed to Officer Rios' aid and he was transported by ambulance to the hospital, but died hours later. The 53-year-old patrol officer was a 22-year CHP veteran and had been assigned to the San Bernardino Area office since graduating from the Academy in 1974. The same day Officer Rios died, his son Reuben Jr. took the oral exam to enter the CHP. The driver of the vehicle that killed Officer Rios was charged with felony DUI and second-degree murder.
Officer Noreen A. Vargas was driving along the San Bernardino Freeway on her way to conduct a felony investigation when an oncoming tractor-trailer rig lost its trailer's right dual tires, which bounced across the freeway lanes into the center divider. One of the tires struck the divider and careened 30 feet into the air and landed on Officer Vargas' vehicle. The impact crushed the vehicle's roof and killed Vargas instantly. The 37-year-old patrol officer was a member of the CHP for eight years. Officer Noreen Vargas is the first female officer killed in the line of duty since the CHP began including women in its ranks in 1974.
Officer James D. Schultz and his partner, Officer Robert Sapp, were investigating an abandoned vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 8 when a sleepy driver's vehicle drifted toward the right shoulder, where the trailer he was towing struck Schultz. Officer Sapp immediately began emergency medical care on the 46-year-old patrolman and Schultz was quickly transported to the hospital, but he died just hours later. Officer Schultz was a 24-year CHP veteran.
Officers Saul Martinez and James D. Rice, paired on graveyard shift, were investigating a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a road north of Palm Springs. An oncoming car, traveling more than 15 feet off the roadway, barreled down on the two officers. Martinez shoved his partner to safety, only to be struck and critically injured himself. The 39-year-old officer died eight days later without regaining consciousness. Martinez, a seven-year member of the Patrol, had just been named "Latino Peace Officer of the Year" for San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in recognition of his outstanding service in "El Protector," a CHP traffic and safety program for the Latino community. Governor Pete Wilson posthumously presented him with the "Medal of Valor", the state's highest award, in recognition of his heroism. The Coachella Valley School District, in an unprecedented action, voted to name a new elementary school in his honor. Misdemeanor manslaughter charges were filed against the driver who struck and killed Officer Martinez.
Officer Daniel J. Muehlhausen had finished investigating a minor traffic accident and was dispatched to assist a disabled motorist about 11 a.m. Officer Muehlhausen was traveling east on Highway 62 near Twentynine Palms, when a mini pickup attempting to pass on a hill crossed over double yellow lines and struck his patrol car head on. The 30-year-old Patrol officer and the two young male occupants of the truck were killed instantly. Both vehicles were immediately engulfed in flames. The rural two-lane stretch of highway where the crash occurred was marked with "No Passing" warning signs because of numerous dips and blind curves that hamper a driver's view of oncoming traffic. Only hours earlier, the driver was traveling in a group of four mini-trucks when one of the drivers was ticketed for trying to pass unsafely. Officer Muehlhausen was assigned to the Indio Area after graduating from the Academy two years earlier.
Officer Scott M. Greenly made an enforcement stop on State Route 85, approached the passenger side and gave the motorist a verbal warning for following too closely. He was returning to his patrol car when a speeding vehicle ran off the roadway onto the raised freeway embankment, striking the patrol car, sideswiping the vehicle he had been standing next to, then finally hitting him and dragging his body across three lanes of traffic. Greenly was transported to the hospital, but succumbed to his injuries while being treated by medical personnel. The 32-year-old officer had been assigned to the San Jose Area after graduating from the Academy three years earlier. He had recently become a motor officer, but was using a patrol vehicle because of inclement weather. The driver of the car that struck and killed Officer Greenly was charged with second degree murder and sentenced to State Prison.
Officer Rick Stovall
Officer Britt Irvine
Santa Maria - February 24, 1998
Officers Rick Stovall and Britt Irvine, partners on graveyard shift, were responding to a possible truck accident on mountainous State Route 166 east of Santa Maria. Rain and fog made visibility poor. Their route took them along the Cuyama River, swollen by recent storms. A huge section of roadway had been chewed away by the raging river and their patrol car plunged 20 feet into the torrent. When dispatch lost radio contact, CHP and allied agencies began to search. It wasn't until the next morning that a CHP helicopter crew found the Patrol car, upside down, buried in silt, with only the tip of one wheel visible. Officer Stovall, 39, was an 18-year veteran of the Highway Patrol and the son of retired CHP Officer R. B. Stovall. Officer Britt Irvine, 40, had served 15 years with the Highway Patrol.
At approximately 12:25 a.m., Officer Christopher Lydon and his partner, Officer Jeffery Jenkins, were advised of a possible drunken driver northbound on State Route 67 at Interstate 8. Officers Lydon and Jenkins responded from a distance of approximately four miles and attempted to intercept the vehicle from southbound SR 67. As the patrol unit rounded a sweeping left hand curve, it lost traction and spun out of control. The car vaulted off the edge of the freeway, overturned and struck a tree bordering the frontage road. Rescue personnel extricated Officer Lydon from the vehicle, but emergency medical personnel pronounced the 27-year-old dead at the scene. Officer Jenkins sustained bruises and lacerations to his face and a separated shoulder, but was able to free himself from the vehicle. Officer Lydon was a two-year member of the Patrol, and had recently transferred to El Cajon after his first assignment with the Central Los Angeles Area.
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