Cops Driving to Death
The topic of cops driving to their death seems to fly under the radar since we usually focus on police officers getting gunned down in the line of duty.
While the murder of peace officers is egregious, the death of our protectors while operating a police cruiser is the focus of this article.
Adrenaline is a helpful hormone when police officers are in a fight for their life. But it can cost an officer his existence while driving an emergency vehicle if left unchecked.
Thus far in 2018 there have been nine, line of duty deaths (LODD) of officers who’ve been killed while operating their police unit. Not all of the officers were operating their vehicle in emergency conditions, but many were.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the following number of officers have died in fatal collisions while on duty during the past ten years:
- 2017 – 28
- 2016 – 21
- 2015 – 28
- 2014 – 28
- 2013 – 26
- 2012 – 23
- 2011 – 35
- 2010 – 43
- 2009 – 34
- 2008 – 36
Consequently, the yearly average during the past decade is just over 30 cops driving to their death per year.
While people may not be alarmed by these figures, each one represents the life of a public guardian whose existence came to a premature end. And in many cases, it’s understandable, yet preventable.
This is not an indictment on anyone in particular. Actually, with the high-risk driving performed by police officers, it’s somewhat amazing these figures are not higher. Nevertheless, this is simply highlighting one of the killers in our profession—driving an automobile.
Overview of LODDs Behind the Wheel
Every police officer can tell their personal “near miss” horror story of operating a vehicle in emergency conditions. Sadly, a small percentage are “direct hits,” and families suffer loss.
The details that follow are a brief overview of each officer who lost his life on duty in 2018 while operating a vehicle.
E.O.W. January 7, 2018
Officer Beaudion, 26, was driving his assigned Ford Crown Victoria patrol vehicle during the early morning hours during his midnight shift.
For reasons that have yet to be disclosed, Beaudion’s vehicle left the roadway, crossed two lanes of opposing traffic and traveled into a ditch striking a tree. As a result, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Ouachita Citizen reported a few days after Beaudion’s death that he had what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his right temple at the time of the collision.
Glenn Springfield, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said a few days into the investigation, there “appears to be no foul play involved at this time,” but the inquiry was ongoing.
We do not know their conclusions.
E.O.W. February 6, 2018
Officer Condit, 23, was traveling in a marked police unit to a mandatory training seminar in a nearby city. While driving, he attempted to pass another vehicle. During the process of passing another vehicle, he lost control of his patrol unit. The vehicle left the roadway, struck a concrete culvert and overturned falling into a ravine. The patrol vehicle burst into flames upon impact with the culvert.
Witnesses ran to the scene and pulled Condit from the vehicle. However, he sustained critical injuries in the crash and died at the scene.
E.O.W. February 13, 2018
Officer Weathers, 25, was participating in a surveillance training exercise when his unmarked patrol vehicle was struck from behind by a civilian’s automobile. The compact car that Weathers’ was occupying was literally ripped open by the impact. The trunk and rear seat area of the vehicle were torn away before the engine and front half of the vehicle slammed into a steel railroad bridge pylon about a hundred feet away from the point of impact.
Weathers was transported to Henry Ford Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later in the afternoon. Three occupants of the striking vehicle sustained minor injuries.
E.O.W. February 17, 2018
Deputy Stanton, 32, died as a result of injuries he sustained when his patrol vehicle was struck by a semi-truck and trailer combination.
The truck experienced a sudden tire tread separation on the left front wheel. As a result, the tire tread wrapped around the steering axle causing the driver to loose control of the big rig.
The truck swerved into the left lane of the freeway, which was occupied by Stanton’s patrol vehicle. Consequently, the unit was run over by the trailer axles. The weight of the trailer, which was loaded with automotive parts, crushed the patrol unit.
Stanton was extricated from the vehicle but was pronounced dead at the scene.
E.O.W. March 1, 2018
Deputy Alexis “Thunder” Eagle Locklear, 24, was killed in a single vehicle crash while he was responding to assist another officer who was involved in a pursuit. Locklear’s patrol vehicle failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway. The vehicle left the road and struck a tree.
The deputy sustained critical injuries in the crash and died at the scene.
E.O.W. March 11, 2018
Deputy Manning, 24, died in a two-vehicle collision while he was pursuing a Nissan Altima sedan that had fled a traffic stop. During the pursuit, Manning lost control of his patrol unit as he rounded a curve on a two-lane highway and crossed the centerline of the road. He struck a Chevrolet Silverado pickup head on.
The occupants of the truck sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries. Manning was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from his patrol vehicle during the crash. He died at the scene.
E.O.W. March 15, 2018
Deputy Zirkle, 24, died as a result of injuries he sustained in a single vehicle crash. Zirkle was responding to a 911 hang up call with unknown trouble.
Zirkle was driving his patrol vehicle on wet roads and lost control of his car as he entered a curve in the road.
The vehicle spun out of control, left the roadway and struck a tree on the driver’s side.
County firefighters responded and arrived soon after with several deputies. It took 35 minutes to get Zirkle out of the car.
As a result, he sustained critical injuries in the crash.
Consequently, Zirkle was flown via medical helicopter to Petaluma Valley Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries a short time after his arrival.
E.O.W. March 29, 2018
Trooper Miller, 49, died as a result of injuries he sustained when his patrol vehicle was involved in a collision with a semi-truck and trailer combination on I-84.
The official cause of the crash was unknown at the time. However, news media photographs indicate the patrol vehicle struck the right rear corner of the semi-truck’s trailer.
As a result, Miller was pinned inside the patrol unit and he died at the scene.
E.O.W. April 6, 2018
Cpl. Hallman, 30, died as a result of injuries he sustained in a single vehicle crash while responding to an emergency.
His partners were looking for a suspect who had fired shots at deputies, and originally fled with a child-hostage. The man fled into a wooded area, and Hallman along with his bloodhound were summoned to help track the man.
As Hallman was heading to the scene with the overhead lights and siren activated, his Chevy Tahoe left the right side of the road. As a result, he over-corrected and the patrol vehicle then crossed the lanes and traveled off the left side of the road. Consequently, the vehicle overturned.
Hallman was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle as it flipped.
Although he was transported to the Self Regional Medical Center, he died several hours later.
Hallman’s K9-bloodhound was in the back of the Tahoe during the crash. K9 “Copper” sustained minor injuries but was expected to make a full recovery.
The sole function of this article is to highlight danger that is often overlooked by peace officers. We honor those who lost their life seeking to help others. Their sacrifice is noble.
Admittedly, some circumstances are simply beyond control. However, others can be prevented. We simply want to remind officers that gunfire isn’t the only way to die on duty. Cops can also drive to their death.
– LET Staff