Thirty Arizona Highway Patrol (AHP prior to 07/01/1969)/Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS after July 1, 1969) officers gave their lives in the line of duty. These brave heroes and their families are in the hearts and minds of all who worked with them, of those who follow in their footsteps and of the public whom they served.
Of the 30 deaths, nine were the result of murder, 17 were traffic related, two died in a helicopter crash, one died in a helicopter accident, and one killed when a train tanker car exploded.
EOW: Monday, December 22, 1958
AHP Patrolman Cochran was killed while stopped along U.S. 80 at milepost 71 east of Dateland, Arizona. His patrol car was struck from behind by a vehicle whose driver was under the influence, causing the patrol car to burst into flames. Officer Cochran was the first in the line of duty death in the 25-year history of the Arizona Highway Patrol.
The Patrolman Louis O. Cochran, #59, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2111 E. Gila Ridge Road in Yuma, Arizona.
EOW: Monday, June 9, 1969
AHP Patrolman Marston was shot and killed by prison escapee Danny Lee Eckard during a gun battle on the Four Winds Ranch in Chino Valley. Eckard, nicknamed the Desert Fox by the Arizona media for his ability to escape and survive in the desert, was then fatally shot by Patrolman Ron Mayes who was riding with Marston.
The Patrolman Paul E. Marston, #138, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 1111 Commerce Drive in Prescott, Arizona.
EOW: Saturday, September 5, 1970
Officer Duthie drowned when his patrol vehicle was washed away by flood waters when Sycamore Creek, near Sunflower, Arizona, overflowed. Officer Duthie was responding to assist stranded citizens due to flooding. He was driving on the Beeline Highway (Arizona State Route 87) and did not see that a portion of the bridge had been washed out. His patrol car left the roadway, went into the creek, and was washed away.
The Officer Gilbert A. Duthie, #143, memorial monument is located at the Sycamore Creek overpass (in the median) on Arizona State Route 87.
EOW: Friday, February 5, 1971
Officer Keeton was shot to death with his own weapon by Bertram Greenberg, a suspect in the rape and murder of a 13-year-old California girl. Keeton, who lost his pistol during an altercation with Greenberg, was shot after stopping Greenberg for a traffic violation on Interstate 40, 12 miles west from the New Mexico state line.
Greenberg then fled the scene and was pulled over a few minutes later by DPS Officer Don A. Beckstead, #409, who is believed to have been unaware of the previous stop or fatal shooting. Officer Beckstead was also shot and died two days later. After the shooting of the two DPS officers, Greenberg kidnapped and killed another person before New Mexico authorities shot and killed him.
The Officer James L. Keeton, #310, memorial monument is located on eastbound I-40 at milepost 347.3 (at the sign Houck 3/4 mile sign).
EOW: Sunday, February 7, 1971
Officer Beckstead was conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 40. A few minutes before this traffic stop, Officer James L. Keeton, #310, stopped the same vehicle and got into an altercation with the suspect, Bertram Greenberg.
During the altercation, Officer Keeton lost his service pistol. Greenberg was a suspect in the rape and murder of a 13-year-old California girl. Officer Keeton was shot with his own weapon. It is believed that Officer Beckstead was unaware of this stop or the fatal shooting of Officer Keeton.
Officer Beckstead was also shot and died two day later. After the shooting of the two DPS officers, Greenberg kidnapped and killed another person before New Mexico authorities shot and killed him.
The Officer Don A. Beckstead, #409, is located on eastbound I-40 at milepost 354.3 (at the Hawthorne exit).
EOW: Thursday, July 19, 1973
Officer Hansen was killed in Kingman when a railroad tanker car, parked on a railroad spur in the hot sun, loaded with 33,000 gallons of propane exploded. In all, 13 people were killed and 112 were injured in the explosion
The Officer Alan H. Hansen, #204, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2319 E. Andy Devine in Kingman, Arizona.
EOW: Friday, December 2, 1977
Officer Diley was returning to Kingman following a narcotics investigation when he was killed in a one-vehicle crash west of Kingman on Interstate 40. The death of Officer Diley, who was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau at DPS, was the first in the line of duty death outside the Highway Patrol Bureau.
The Officer Gregory A. Diley, #1442, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2319 E. Andy Devine in Kingman, Arizona.
EOW: Monday, December 11, 1978
During a traffic stop on Interstate 10, eight miles east of Benson, Arizona, Officer Merrill was struck by a passing tractor-trailer. Officer Merrill had served with the DPS for eight years. He also served in the U.S. Air Force in Germany during the 1960s as a member of the 602nd Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron.
The Officer Noah M. Merrill, #695, memorial monument is located in the westbound rest area at Texas Canyon, approximately milepost 320.
EOW: Friday, November 30, 1979
Officer Walker was shot and killed while working an undercover cocaine case. He was sitting in his car at Tucson International Airport when he was shot. The assailant, Genaro Celaya, 28, was captured a short time later with Walker's flash roll in his possession. Celaya is serving a life sentence in an Arizona prison.
The Officer John C. Walker, #150, memorial monument is located at the Tucson International Airport, east of the Executive Tower.
EOW: Wednesday, November 19, 1980
Officer Murie was en route to Phoenix from Flagstaff on November 16, 1980, when he stopped north of Phoenix on Interstate 17 to assist at a collision scene. He was struck by a passing vehicle, crushing his legs and a wrist. Complications resulting from these injuries led to his death three days later on November 19th.
The Officer William H. Murie, #721, memorial monument is located on the southbound I-17 (Black Canyon Freeway) on ramp at Anthem Way.
EOW: Sunday, October 2, 1983
On Sunday, October 2, 1983, just before 1:00 a.m., DPS Officer/Pilot McNeff, along with Officer/Paramedic Richard Stratman, #1622, died when their helicopter (Ranger 29) crashed into a flooded cotton field in Marana, Arizona.
At the time, southern Arizona was experiencing historic thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and many areas were flooded, including the crash site. The cotton field was under water due to the overflowing of the nearby Santa Cruz River.
For over 11 1/2 hours, the two-man crew flew numerous times over in support of search and rescue, medical, flood reconnaissance and other flood related missions. Most of the rescue operations were in support of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and Picture Rocks/Avra Valley Fire Department.
In yet another emergency call, three Picture Rocks/Avra Valley volunteer firefighters became stranded on their fire attack truck within the Santa Cruz River. The Ranger 29 crew was not able to complete the rescue due to high tension power lines and other fixed lines high up around the area of the stranded firefighters. Any rescue attempt in the dark stormy night, with the power and land line obstacles, would have been extremely hazardous to the firefighters and the Ranger 29 crew.
After several attempts, the mission was aborted. Ranger 29 lifted off from the intersection of Silverbell and Aguirre, the aborted rescue site, and flew towards Tucson International Airport where the Southern Air Rescue hangar was located.
Ranger 29 never made it to the hangar; instead, it crashed less than ten minutes later (between 12:45 – 12:55 A.M.) just six nautical miles southeast of its take off point. Pilot McNeff’s last radio transmission was at 12:45:41 A.M. The transmission was, “MEDS; Ranger 29, we hear you, but we’re gonna be real busy.” “The MEDS Dispatcher did not perceive any indication of a problem with either the pilot or aircraft based on the voice inflection of the pilot,” according to the official Department report.
At 12:50 A.M. a Pima County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant, called the DPS communications center to report Ranger 29 had crashed. According to the official DPS report, “The DPS Dispatcher told the Lieutenant, “No, MEDS just talked to him (Ranger 29) at 12:45 A.M.” The Lieutenant told to the dispatcher, ‘Went down and exploded in Marana. Yours was the only one (helicopter) in the area.’”
A U.S. Air Force search and rescue team was requested by PCSO to respond to the crash site. Two pilots, a flight surgeon and a flight mechanic flew through a storm cell to reach Ranger 29. The pilot-in-charge described having encountered several rain squalls, heavy rain showers, and whiteouts from their spot/searchlights reflecting back into the cockpit from the heavy rain. The pilot also experienced spatial disorientation which prompted him to trade control of the helicopter to the co-pilot numerous times. At 1:55 A.M., the flight mechanic spotted the wreckage of Ranger 29. The flight surgeon was lowered to the crash site and determined there were no signs of life. Flood waters prevented the flight surgeon from getting close to Ranger 29. A weather front moved in over the crash site and the team was forced to leave the area until day break. The pilot reported Ranger 29 crashed into the flooded cotton field – nose first and at a slight left bank/angle.
The exact cause of the crash was never determined. The official report lists several possibilities for the cause of the crash; those being: pilot error, bad weather, or an air craft failure.
Officer/Pilot Thomas McNeff was a U.S. Army gunship pilot with the 192nd Assault Helicopter Company in Phan Thiet during the Vietnam War from 1970 – 1971. He had been with the Department for eight years and was 36-years-old. He was survived by his daughter and his parents.
The Officer/Pilot Thomas P. McNeff #1758 and Officer/Paramedic Richard G. Stratman #1622 memorial monument is located at the eastbound I-10 on ramp at milepost 236.
EOW: Sunday, October 2, 1983
On Sunday, October 2, 1983, just before 1:00 A.M., DPS Officer/Paramedic Stratman along with Officer/Pilot Thomas McNeff, #1758, died when their helicopter (Ranger 29) crashed into a flooded cotton field in Marana, Arizona.
Officer/Paramedic Stratman had been a DPS explorer as a teenager and eventually followed his dream to become an officer. He eventually became a paramedic in 1979 after a year-long training course. Paramedic Stratman was survived by his parents.
The Officer/Pilot Thomas P. McNeff #1758 and Officer/Paramedic Richard G. Stratman #1622 memorial monument is located at the eastbound I-10 on ramp at milepost 236.
EOW: Tuesday, October 20, 1987
Officer Bruce A. Petersen was in pursuit of a speeding vehicle on Arizona State Route 61 near Concho when his patrol vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree.
The Officer Bruce A. Peterson, #3536, memorial monument is located on Arizona State Route 61, milepost 368, in front of the Concho School.
EOW: Tuesday, June 28, 1988
Officer Ed Rebel was shot to death while attempting to arrest a suspect driving a stolen car near Marana on Interstate 10. Officer Rebel, despite his mortal wound, was able to fire a volley of shots, killing his assailant, Bruce Beaty, 23, of Houston. Beaty was believed to be part of a stolen car ring.
The Officer Ed Rebel, #233, memorial monument is located on the westbound I-10 on ramp at milepost 236.
EOW: Saturday, October 14, 1989
Officer Johnny E. Garcia died while responding to a report of a drunken driver, whose car was stuck in a right-of-way fence near the Picacho interchange on Interstate 10. While passing a car on State Route 84 near Casa Grande, Officer Garcia's patrol car struck loose gravel, rolled three times, hit a car and then a tree.
The Officer Johnny E. Garcia, #3572, memorial monument is located at the westbound Interstate 10 Sacaton rest area at milepost 182.
EOW: Friday, August 31, 1990
Sergeant Blaser and Officer David G. Gabrielli, #1231, were assisting with an investigating of a motor vehicle collision on U.S. 89, south of Tucson. The two men were standing in the median when a car, driven by James B. Sheets, struck them from behind.
Sergeant Blaser died after being transported to a Tucson-area hospital and Officer Gabrielli was pronounced dead at the scene. Sergeant Blaser was the first Arizona Department of Public Safety line supervisor to die in the line of duty.
The driver was found guilty July 18, 1991, of manslaughter and reckless endangerment by a Pima County Superior Court jury. In September 1991, a judge ordered Sheets to serve 9-year sentences on each of the two manslaughter counts and three years for reckless endangerment. The sentences were to run consecutively. Sheets died May 21, 1997 of natural causes.
The Sergeant John M. Blaser, #2916, and Officer David G. Gabrielli, #1231, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 6401 S. Tucson Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona.
EOW: Friday, August 31, 1990
Officer Gabrielli and Sergeant John Blaser, #2916, were assisting with an investigating of a motor vehicle collision on U.S. 89, south of Tucson when a car, driven by James B. Sheets, struck them from behind.
EOW: Tuesday, January 8, 1991
Sergeant Tapia was shot on the night of January 7, 1991, in Nogales by a drug suspect after a traffic stop. Upon asking the suspect, Noel Gonzales-Bernal, to open the vehicle's trunk, he fled on foot with Sergeant Tapia chasing him. The suspect then turned and shot Sergeant Tapia. The suspect was fatally shot by a Nogales, Arizona police officer.
It was later learned that Sergeant. Tapia was unarmed, having inadvertently left his weapon in his vehicle. He died the next morning, January 8, 1991, at Tucson Medical Center.
The Sergeant Manuel H. Tapia, #1409, memorial monument is located at milepost 1 on Grand Avenue (Business Route 19) in Nogales, Arizona.
EOW: Friday, July 3, 1992
Sergeant Zesiger was leading a family to a campsite near McNary when his patrol vehicle was struck head-on by a pickup truck driven by Calvin Dayea, who was found to be driving under the influence. In April 1993, Dayea was sentenced to four years in a federal prison but was released on December 21, 1994. Ten days later, on December 31, 1994, he was arrested by an DPS officer following a short pursuit on the Navajo Reservation. Dayea was found to be in violation of his parole (drinking alcoholic beverages) and was returned to a federal prison to complete his term.
The Sergeant David J. Zesiger, #1848, memorial monument is located at milepost 369.7 on Arizona State Route 260.
EOW: Saturday, July 3, 1993
While standing near a motorist he had stopped for speeding, 20 miles south of Phoenix on Interstate 10, Sergeant Dryer was struck and killed by a passing car driven by Charles Robert Ransier, 33, of Phoenix. Sergeant Dryer was the first DPS reserve officer killed in the line of duty.
The motorist, who was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, was sentenced in May 1995 to 15 years in an Arizona state prison. The Department’s Reserve Officer of the Year Award is named in Sergeant Dryer’s honor.
The Sergeant Mark Dryer, #9764, memorial monument is located at the westbound Interstate 10 Sacaton rest area at milepost 182.
EOW: Tuesday, July 4, 1995
Sergeant Crowe was shot to death, along with Yuma Police Department Lieutenant Dan Elkins, after they arrived at the Southwest Border Alliance headquarters building near the Yuma International Airport. The two were members of the Southwest Border Alliance (SBA) Task Force and had agreed to meet at the building to discuss missing items from the SBA property room. Upon entering the building, they interrupted a burglary in progress and were shot by the intruder.
Yuma police arrested Jack Ray Hudson, a Yuma County Sheriff's Office Deputy, as a suspect in the double murder. The deputy was a fellow member of the same narcotics task force and was later convicted of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 40 years.
On April 30, 1997, Hudson was sentenced to prison for life and died in prison on October 10 2017.
The Sergeant Michael L. Crowe, #2729, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2111 E. Gila Ridge Road in Yuma, Arizona.
EOW: Tuesday, August 15, 1995
Officer Martin was shot to death during a traffic stop on the Beeline Highway about seven miles north of Shea Boulevard. His assailant, Ernesto Salgado Martinez, a 19 year old ex-convict from Globe, fled the scene and was captured two days later in California.
Martinez was convicted of first degree murder, two counts of theft and two counts of misconduct.
The Officer Robert K. Martin, #474, memorial monument is located at milepost 195 on Arizona State Route 87.
EOW: Friday, January 2, 1998
While standing and waiting for a tow truck to remove an abandoned vehicle at the gore point of Scottsdale Road and westbound Loop 202 (Red Mountain Freeway), Motorcycle Officer Knutson suffered multiple injuries when struck from behind by a small pickup truck driven by Brett Baxter, 22, of Tempe. He was taken to Maricopa County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Knutson was the first DPS motorcycle officer to be killed in the line of duty. Baxter was not charged.
The Officer Douglas E. Knutson, #3818, is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, located at south 16th Street and University Drive in Phoenix, Arizona.
EOW: Wednesday, December 9, 1998
Officer Cruz, along with two other DPS officers, was blocking the high speed traffic lane of Interstate 10 in Tucson with his patrol vehicle while investigating a prior collision. A westbound vehicle driven by Marissa Rodriguez, 21, struck the rear of Officer Cruz’s vehicle, which was positioned at the far-east end of the collision scene. Officer Cruz was sitting in his vehicle at the time of the collision and received fatal injuries as a result of the crash.
Rodriguez was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter. There was no trial in this case, the family agreed to a plea bargain of 11 years. Rodriguez was released on parole to her parents on June 22, 2009 and completed her parole on January 21, 2011.
The Officer Juan N. Cruz, #3111, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 6401 S. Tucson, Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona.
EOW: Friday, February 18, 2000
Officer Fink had just stopped an eastbound motorist on the Superstition Freeway (U.S. 60) near McClintock Drive in Tempe, when his patrol car was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Robert Stavers, 22, of Mesa. Upon impact, Officer Fink’s patrol car burst into flames, trapping the 28-year DPS veteran officer.
Several people tried to rescue the Officer Fink, who had not yet removed his seat belt, from the flaming wreckage, but were unable to do so until they were able to douse the flames with personal extinguishers. The Miami native was pronounced dead about an hour later at the Maricopa County Hospital Burn Unit.
Stavers was charged with second-degree murder, endangerment, possession and use of dangerous drugs, possession of marijuana, and leaving the scene of a fatal crash. In December 2000, Stravers plead guilty to a charge of manslaughter. On March 30th, 2001, Stravers was sentenced to 18 years in prison, the maximum allowable under the plea deal reached with Maricopa County prosecutors.
Just two weeks short of his 28-year anniversary with the Department, Officer Fink had the most years of service among Arizona Department of Public Safety/Arizona Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty.
The Officer Floyd J. Fink, #940, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, located at south 16th Street and University Drive in Phoenix, Arizona.
EOW: Tuesday, March 21, 2000
Officer Buckmister succumbed to injuries suffered in a traffic collision within the outer city limits of Page. Officer Buckmister, a native of Mesa who had served one year, one month and one day with the Department, was southbound on U.S. 89 when his patrol car and a van collided. Three people in the van also lost their lives in the crash, which occurred in rainy/snowy conditions.
The Officer Brett C. Buckmister, #5548, memorial monument is located at milepost 544.8 on United States Highway 89, outside of Page, Arizona.
EOW: Monday, October 13, 2008
DPS Officer/Paramedic Harrolle was killed while assisting with a search and rescue mission of two stranded hikers. Officer Harrolle was struck by the helicopter's rotor blades and fatally injured. Officer Harrolle is survived by his wife, two young children, and parents.
The Officer/Paramedic Bruce W. Harrolle, #5669, memorial monument is located at Sedona Fire District 6 Station at 2675 State Route 179.
EOW: Thursday, December 17, 2009
Officer Marano died from injuries suffered when he was struck by a vehicle while deploying stop sticks during a pursuit on the Loop 101 in Phoenix. The suspect Georgia Lynn Baker, 43 eventually abandoned her vehicle and fled on foot into a neighborhood.
She was apprehended by officers at a condominium complex shortly after abandoning the stolen vehicle. In October 2011, Baker was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder, six years for unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle and 11 ¼ years for theft of means of transportation.
The Officer Christopher R. Marano, #6759, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, located at south 16th Street and University Drive in Phoenix, Arizona.
EOW: Monday, May 6, 2013
Officer Huffman was on scene helping investigate an injury collision on Interstate 8, 40 miles east of Yuma, when a tanker truck failed to yield to the closure of the number-two lane on the highway. The driver of the semi-truck, Jorge Espinoza, 33, first collided with a parked patrol car, which then crashed into Huffman’s patrol car. Huffman was seated inside his patrol car writing a report and was killed by the force of the impact.
Espinoza was convicted of first degree murder and on July 8th, 2015, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Officer Huffman was a member of the Arizona Army National Guard and had served with the DPS for 14 years.
The Officer Timothy A. Huffman, #5430, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2111 E. Gila Ridge Road in Yuma, Arizona.
EOW: Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Trooper Edenhofer was shot and killed in the line of duty in the late night hours of July 25, 2018. Trooper Edenhofer graduated from the State Trooper Academy on May 4, 2018 and was finishing his last night of Field Training when calls came in of a man on the side of the road throwing debris at passing vehicles on Interstate 10 near Avondale.
Trooper Edenhofer arrived on scene with his Field Trainer to assist the responding trooper and a physical altercation ensued between the suspect, Isaac D. King and troopers, lasting roughly eight minutes. During the altercation, the King was able to obtain one of the troopers’ service weapon and fired two shots. One trooper suffered a non-life threating gunshot wound through his shoulder and Trooper Edenhofer was also shot.
The troopers were rushed to the hospital where Trooper Edenhofer was pronounced deceased. Trooper Edenhofer served in the Navy before joining DPS in September 2017. He is the youngest fallen trooper from Arizona Department of Public Safety.
After being released from the hospital King, Arizona Department of Public Safety detectives and troopers placed Trooper Tyler Edenhofer’s handcuffs on King before transporting him from a valley hospital to the Maricopa County Jail. Using Tyler’s handcuffs signified the completion of the call for service that ultimately took his life. “It also means we have taken over Trooper Edenhofer’s watch and completed the apprehension of his assailant.”
The Tyler Edenhofer, #10499, memorial monument is located at the Arizona Department of Public Safety District Office, 2111 E. Gila Ridge Road in Yuma, Arizona.