Saturday, 22 June 2024

STATE: Two CHP officers die in separate weekend incidents

SACRAMENTO – The California Highway Patrol reported that over the weekend two more of its officers died, bringing to five the total of officers who have died in the line of duty in less than two months' time.

Early Sunday morning Officer Justin McGrory, 28, was struck by a motorist as he stood by the side of the road while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, the CHP reported. McGrory, who had been with the CHP for nearly three years, died later at an area hospital.

Later that same day, 48-year-old CHP Officer Brett Oswald, a 20-year CHP veteran, was waiting next to his patrol vehicle while at a collision scene in San Luis Obispo County when he, too, was struck by a vehicle, dying at a hospital later that night.

“No words can describe the loss felt by our department and the families of these fallen heroes,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “As we mourn their recent loss, our brave and dedicated officers vow to honor the memory of their fallen comrades by continuing to carry out the CHP’s mission of providing the highest level of safety, service and security to the motoring public.”

Also lost since the start of May are Officer Daniel Benavides, Officer Thomas P. Coleman and Officer Philip Ortiz.

Benavides, 39, a three-year CHP veteran, was killed May 7 when the Cessna 206 fix winged aircraft he was piloting while patrolling Imperial County crashed near Brawley.

On June 11, Coleman, 33, was riding his CHP motorcycle in San Bernardino County during a pursuit and crashed into the side of a tractor trailer. Coleman, who had served with the CHP for seven years, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ortiz, 48, was conducting an enforcement stop on the right shoulder of the San Diego Freeway on June 9 when he was struck from behind by a vehicle being driven on the right shoulder of the freeway. As a result of the collision, Officer Ortiz sustained major injuries, and died June 22. He was a 28-year CHP veteran.

The CHP reported that it appreciates the assistance and outpouring of support it’s received from throughout the nation.

For more than 80 years, CHP officers have put their lives on the line to make sure roadways and communities are safe. During that time, 220 uniformed members of the organization have made the ultimate sacrifice in their efforts to make California’s roadways some of the safest in the nation.

“It's times like these that re-emphasize how dangerous this profession is and it strengthens the resolve of the men and women of the CHP,” said California Association of Highway Patrolmen President Rob Nelson. “It is imperative that the loss of these officers serve as a reminder to the public to be cautious when approaching emergency incidents on the highway.”

In 2007, the Move Over, Slow Down law went into effect in California. This law requires a person who is driving a vehicle on a freeway and approaching in a lane immediately adjacent to a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying emergency lights, or a stopped tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, to move out of that lane when legal, safe and practicable, or slow to a reasonable and safe speed.

“Many of these tragedies involving our officers and other highway workers and emergency personnel could be avoided,” added Commissioner Farrow. “While the department is committed to the highest level of training for every officer, it is every motorist’s responsibility to drive attentively and exercise caution on the roadway.”

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