These last two weeks in August have seen way too many Line of Duty deaths for the Law Enforcement community and it's with a heavy heart that I have to add five more names to the Honor Roll of Fallen Heroes on the sidebar of my blog. Every time I get a notification in my email my heart sinks but to get them so often this past week has been even more depressing.
May God be with the family, friends, and comrades of the following men and women as they come to grips with their deaths and loss to their communities.
Ordinance Officer Kathy Ann Cox of the Gordon County Sheriff's Office in Georgia was killed on Thursday, August 21st, when her department truck was struck head-on by an armored car which swerved into her path while attempting to avoid hitting a car that had stopped in front of it. Both the armored car and Officer Cox's truck were engulfed in flames at the time of impact.
Officer Cox, age 50, had served in law enforcement for 30 years and was also a volunteer member of the Nicklesville Department of the Gordon Country Fire Department. She is survived by her husband, two daughters, a son, and two grandchildren in addition to her mother and brother.
A Perth Amboy, New Jersey police officer was killed on Friday, August 22nd, when his patrol car was struck by a drunk driver while he and his partner were transporting a prisoner to the Middlesex County Jail.
Police Officer Thomas Raji, a 10-year veteran of the department, died after his patrol vehicle was struck broadside on the driver's side when the drunk driver ran two red lights at the intersection. Officer Raji's partner and the prisoner they were transporting were both injured in the accident also.
"The Perth Amboy Police Department lost one of its finest today," Chief Michael Kohut said. "Officer Raji was well respected among his colleagues as well as the men, women and children that he encountered on a daily basis."
Officer Raji, age 31, is survived by his expectant wife, Marisol, who is also an officer with the Perth Amboy Police Department and two step-children, Devyn Nicole and Gabriel Anthony.
On Monday, August 25th in Massachusetts, Police Officer Melvin E. Dyer succumbed to injuries that he had received ten days earlier as the result of being struck by a motor vehicle while directing traffic at the Marshfield Fair.
A part-time officer for the Duxbury Police Department for the past year, Officer Dyer was directing traffic at an intersection near the fair when a vehicle failed to stop and ran him over. He was transported to Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston where he remained in critical condition until his death.
“Every day of his life was devoted to public service, so it’s a terrible irony that he should die this way,” said Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, for whom Dyer worked previously.
Officer Dyer, age 67, had previously served with the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department for three years and was also a Vietnam veteran who served in the Marine Corps for 20 years where he rose to the rank of Master Sergeant and was awarded the Purple Heart, among other honors.
Officer Dyer leaves behind his wife, Bonnie, daughter Melissa and husband Todd, son Michael and wife Anne, and granddaughters Samantha and Ashlye. In additon he also leaves his children from a previous marriage, Betsy, Jane, and Bob as well as two sisters and two brothers.
A member of the Columbus Division of Police in Ohio died from a brain bleed that he suffered while taking part in department training on Thursday, August 21st. Police Officer Timothy A. Haley, a member of the Division's SWAT team, was engaged in a physical excursion training exercise during which time Officer Haley said he had a headache and didn't feel right.
When Officer Haley, age 42, fell unconscious during the exercise he was rushed to the hospital where it was determined that a blood vessel in his brain had ruptured and that he was brain dead. Per his wishes as an organ donor, Officer Haley remained on life support for five days so that his organs could be harvested.
Officer Haley worked patrol, the narcotics bureau and the helicopter squad. He also was a K-9 officer for a time, and he was part of the SWAT team for the last three years. "Just a star. That's how cops refer to people like Tim: Just a star," said fellow SWAT officer Jim Scanlon who was there at the time of Officer Haley's collapse.
A 21-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police, Officer Haley is survived by his wife, Renee, and sons Tristan, 9; Brandon, 7; and Devon, 4.
A 4-1/2 year veteran of the Montana Highway Patrol and former U.S. Marine was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, August 26th, when his patrol car was struck by a GMC pickup truck that crossed over the median causing a head-on collision. Trooper Evan F. Schneider and the driver of the pickup were killed instantly while a passenger in the pickup truck died from her injuries later in the day.
According to a spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Justice in Helena, Trooper Schneider had been traveling west on U.S. 2 between Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls when he observed the driver of a vehicle traveling eastbound commit a traffic violation. The trooper turned around and passed two vehicles with his emergency lights flashing and was attempting to pull over the vehicle when a pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line and collided with his car head-on. What caused the pickup to veer into oncoming traffic is unknown.
“Trooper Evan Schneider was a ... dedicated man whose quick wit and sense of humor will be deeply missed,” Montana Highway Patrol Capt. Clancy King, who commands Schneider’s detachment, said in a statement. “Our prayers are with the Schneider family during this sad time.”
Trooper Schneider, who would have turned 30 in early September, is survived by his wife, Carrie. His brother, James, is a Montana Highway Patrol trooper in Libby, Montana.