A helicopter crash on Sunday claimed the life of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Sergeant Monty Carmikle, a passenger in an AGFC helicopter that was searching for possible night-hunters.
The crash of the Vietnam-era helicopter, a Bell OH-58, occurred around 1:00 a.m. in Cleburne County as Sergeant Carmikle, age 45, and the contract pilot, Jerry Fryar of Ozark, attempted to head off violators who were 'jack-lighting' deer in a field. The pilot was taken to a hospital where his injuries were not considered life-threatening.
“It’s my understanding they (Carmikle and Fryar) actually saw some headlights, and they were going down to try to see where they could head these guys off before they got out of the woods,” AGFC Spokesman Keith Stephens said. The crash, which occurred in a cow pasture about 60 miles north of Little Rock, is under investigation by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
AGFC wildlife officer Major Mike Knoedl, said that the entire agency is deeply saddened by the death. "Being a wildlife officer is a very dangerous job. We're trained for just about everything, but in this instance it was out of the officer's control," he said.
Segeant Carmikle, who is survived by his wife and son, had been with the state agency since the summer of 1985 working the Cleburne County area as a wildlife officer and on the AGFC Dive Team for many years. He was the first wildlife officer to die in the line of duty since two officers died in a plane crash in the 1970s.
The fourth Philadelphia police officer to die in the Line of Duty in 2008 was killed on Monday, November 17th, following a dramatic two-vehicle crash involving a suspected drunk driver. Sergeant Timothy Simpson died at Temple University Hospital at approximately 11:55 p.m., where he had been rushed in critical condition following the 10:30 p.m. collision in the Port Richmond section of the city.
Sergeant Simpson was responding to a robbery call when his police cruiser was slammed on the passenger's side by a Chevrolet Camaro driven by a convicted felon from Levittown with illegal drugs in his pockets. The suspect, who has a long arrest record, was being chased by another patrol car after running a red light before the crash which was so violent that it rocketed the cruiser into a nearby building and slammed the other car into a light stand. Both vehicles were demolished and it took furious efforts by rescuers to pull the officer from his squad car as well as two civilians from the other vehicle.
Only hours before he died, Sergeant Simpson had received an award for outstanding service as Superintendant of the Month from his commanding officer in the 24th District. Sergeant Simpson's other honors included a heroism award, four merit awards and a letter of commendation.
This past May, Sergeant Simpson's former partner, Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski, was gunned down following a bank robbery and Sergeant Simpson was briefly in the public eye following the five-day man hunt for the suspect when he formally arrested the accused bank robber wanted in connection with the death of his former partner and friend. Following police tradition, Sergeant Simpson placed Sergeant Liczbinski's handcuffs on the suspect, who later confessed to the bank robbery but denied shooting Sergeant Liczbinski, before leading him to a 24th district police wagon.
Following his death, Sergeant Simpson was named supervisor of Sergeant Liczbinski's unit. Captain Kevin Hodges of the 24th Police District told reporters, "I had to make the tough decision of who was going to go in Steve's position in 2 Squad. I chose Timmy Simpson because he was a strong leader, a great cop, and an excellent supervisor." Captain Hodges said Simpson belonged to an old school when it comes to policing. "We would have taken this job for 10 cents ... because we loved it. It wasn't a job or a career for us - it was truly a life's calling ... and Timmy embodied that."
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Simpson was "An excellent sergeant, excellent police officer. You can't say enough good things about him." Echoing Commissioner Ramsey's sentiments, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter said, "He was a good officer trying to do his duty."
A 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department who celebrated that milestone just this last Friday, Sergeant Simpson, age 46, is survived by his wife Cathy, their 11-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old twins - a son and daughter - as well as a brother who is also on the force.