CLEVELAND, OH- Tragedy struck a family the day before Thanksgiving, and we lost another law enforcement officer from what can only be described as a terrible accident.

In Cleveland, Ohio a woman working as a motor carrier enforcement inspector (MCEI) for the Ohio State Highway Patrol was struck and killed by a vehicle while on duty working a traffic crash in Miami County, according to a release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The crash had occurred on Wednesday, November 27th, just one day before families all throughout the country gathered around dinner tables to spend time with each other in celebration of Thanksgiving.  

That morning, at approximately 6:47 a.m. on I-75 in the city of Troy, Inspector Kimra J. Skelton was parked in a crossover when her vehicle was suddenly struck by a 2017 Ford F-250 that was traveling northbound.

The driver, a 44-year-old man from Kettering, had traveled off the left side of the road and managed to strike her patrol vehicle. While the vehicular impact killed Skelton, the driver of the Ford had only sustained minor injuries from the crash.

In a statement that was provided by Colonel Richard S. Fambro, which was also added to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Facebook page, Fambro said:

“There are no words that can express our grief over the loss of MCEI Kimra Skelton. We are forever grateful for her service and sacrifice. Our prayers are with family, friends and coworkers.”

From what was said about Skelton by Fambro, as well as other members of her community that chimed in online, the loss is weighing heavily indeed.

The reactions and comments online from the posting made by the Ohio State Highway Patrol showed that residents of the state are saddened by the news, but are also hoping to address ways to avoid roadside fatalities of officers. One user on Facebook commented on the tragedy, saying:

“This is horrible. Something should be done about the way people are to pull over, such as pull off at the next exit on the shoulder or something.

It puts everyone in danger being 4-6 feet from people traveling 50-70 mph. I know we have the “slow down move over law” but something else needs to be done in my opinion. My thoughts and my prayers go out to inspector Skeltons family, and to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.”

Other’s had responded to the online news of the Skelton’s passing, making mention of the dangers of any kind of distracted driving. One Facebook user commented:

“So sad … just sitting in her vehicle in the crossover. Prayers for everyone connected with her. People, please focus on your driving. This is avoidable.”

Another individual commented on their personal exchanges with Skelton, fondly remembering their interaction:

“She inspected my hazmat once. What a wonderful officer! She was knowledgeable, kind, yet firm. What an example. I am sorry for your loss. She was a true professional.”

Skelton, who was 49 at the time of her passing, has been a member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol since 2005. This amazing woman who dedicated nearly 15 years to helping keep her community and truck drivers on the road safe, sadly leaves behind her husband as well as her two children.  

As it stands the crash is still being investigated by officials, with no word yet as to whether there’s going to be any criminal charges associated with the driver who struck Skelton.

Still, it’s painful to even fathom the thought of just the day before Thanksgiving the family of Inspector Skelton were likely discussing dinner plans for the holiday; looking forward to sharing a meal as a family.

Yet, that day there was an empty chair at the table, leaving a void that can never be replaced because of the sacrifices that our first responders make to bring order amid our society. Our prayers go out to the family of Inspector Skelton.

Yesterday, we reported on the loss of another brother in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.

We’ve just learned that another officer has taken his own life.  This time, it happened in his own police station.

The Elm Grove Police Department posted a heartfelt message on social media, mourning the loss of a 19-year veteran of the Elm Grove Police Department, who died by suicide at the department in the early morning hours of Monday, November 25th.

As the rise of officer related suicides is proving to be an epidemic, this serves as another example as to why mental health needs to be a focus of departments and also eliminating the stigma so our first responders can feel comfortable discussing what may be ailing them.

The West Allis Police Department is conducting the investigation currently. In a statement, officials said the following prior to announcing the name of the fallen officer the following day:

“We send our most sincere condolences to his family at this difficult time. Our department and our community are grieving, and we will release the officer’s name and photo as soon as we have made all appropriate notifications.”

The following day, police revealed the identity of the officer that had taken their life as Sgt. Joseph Ipavec.

The department described as him as “a leader in our department and in our community.” Sgt. Ipavec also mentored new officers that had decided to work at the station in his role as a field training officer and certified firearms instructor, according to the police department.

He represented the department as the Citizen Police Academy’s liaison amid his other police related endeavors, while also being a state-licensed EMT and a 2014 graduate of Northwestern University’s Police Staff and Command.

On the social media post Tuesday, police stated:

“He was an officer of exceptional performance, and was most notably commended for his actions that, without question, saved many lives during the Villager Apartments fire in October of 2000. We are heartbroken at the loss of our dedicated co-worker and friend. His family and two young children are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the following statement after news broke out of the officer’s suicide:

“The Elm Grove community has suffered a profound loss. The Department of Justice and the Wisconsin law enforcement community mourn with the police department and family and friends of this officer.”

The Elm Grove Police Department had thanked members of the community for showing their support for the officer amid this tragic loss, along with officers from fellow communities who the department described their actions as those:

“That responded at a moment’s notice to assist our officers during this critical incident and to help us, over the long term, pursue a path of wellbeing.”

There’s been no information released regarding specifics of the suicide of this warrior.

 What we do know is that the role of a first responder is mentally taxing, and is peppered with traumatic instances; especially with a career of 19 years under one’s proverbial belt. We here at Law Enforcement Today extend our deepest condolences and prayers for those gravely affected by the loss of this amazing hero.

Earlier this year, “Sgt. A. Merica” wrote a story about how sometimes the biggest challenges in battling PTS take place within one’s own agency.  We felt it was an appropriate time to again share his words.

Save me… before I go too far.

“Good job.”

When was the last time you heard those words?

When was the last time administration in your own agency congratulated you on doing something right?

When was the last time you believed you had the support of the leaders who were supposed to be making our jobs easier?

Stop me… because I’ve already found the rope.

Why is it that we need to be just as afraid of covering our own asses as we are of the criminals we’re trying to stop?

How did we get to the point in policing where I need to hesitate on pulling the trigger of my gun when a member of MS13 has one pointed right at me?

When did we get to that moment where the leadership in my department was more afraid of answering questions from the media than answering questions from the widow I’ll leave behind?

Prevent me… for I’ve learned to tie the noose.

How did politicians get so much influence in my department, and why is it that the people who were supposed to have my back now only have their own?

When did the harassment in our agency take such an ugly turn… and why am I so afraid of reporting the bullshit?  How is it that I’m living more in fear of IA and days off without pay than I am of being shot?

At what point did it become acceptable for an officer wounded in the line of duty to become ostracized from the very department he served with for so many years?

Watch me… I’ve been given enough rope to hang myself.

Where did all of our training go?  Why is it that we beg for training and the lack of it is blamed on “budgets”, but there always manages to be a “budget” for ridiculous compliance paperwork?

How did we get to the point where we spend more time on how to write a report identifying a person we pulled over for their race, sex, gender or sexual orientation than we spend learning how to shoot a gun?  And how is it that we get blamed when we miss?

Judge me… because that’s what you do.

You thought I was ok. You thought we were all ok. Because we’re police officers, and we put on a front.

But then when the pain got to be too much, the support wasn’t there and I needed you the most… you turned away.

And when I finally did the unthinkable and ended the pain, you had a look of shock on your face. You passed along your thoughts and prayers to my family.  You said, “we wished he would have given us a sign… told us that he needed us”.  You quietly judge me for not having the courage to come back to work the next day.

But the truth is I did give you a sign – WE gave you a sign.  I am hanging not because I failed… I am hanging because YOU failed.

The enemy is within. The enemy is you.  And until you can recognize that and fix it… we will fall.

This one is on you.

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