Officer Dies in Fresno, CA
Officers Brian Law, 34, of Clovis, and Juan Gonzalez, 33, of Fresno were killed when the squad car they were driving to a multivehicle crash on Monday, February 17, 2014. The officers were close friends, trained together in police academy and died together in service to their community.
Driving toward the accident on state Route 99 near the Central Valley town of Kingsburg, the two officers swerved to avoid a person in the road and flipped their squad car, killing them both. Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, a CHP spokesman worked with both officers and is quoted as saying that both men were highly respected and will be greatly missed.
The predawn multivehicle collision occurred about 25 miles southeast of Fresno and was initially reported to be in the northbound lanes but when the officers discovered it was actually in the southbound lanes they realized a victim was in the road.
Officer Juan Gonzales was driving as they redirected to the southbound lanes. When he encountered the victim still standing in the road he swerved and hit a guardrail and the freeway exit sign pylon. Both officers, sadly, lost their lives.
The original crash entailed a pickup truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the concrete center divider. Once the truck came to rest it was in the center of the road with its lights on facing oncoming traffic. This commenced a chain reaction of accidents and collisions.
Officers on the scene reported another vehicle crashing into the truck and then coming to rest a few feet away. Once officers Gonzales and law arrived it was unsure if they thought the accident was further down the road than it was. They swerved and crashed only a few feet from the pickup.
The officers were both wearing seatbelts. They were in the same car because it is protocol when working the graveyard shift. They both graduated California Highway Patrol Academy in 2008. According to CHP records, they are the first police officers from the Fresno office of CHP to die in the line of duty since 1962 and the death of Jerry E. Turre.
Many officers experience stress and emotional issues when another officer is killed in the line of duty. Often, a doctor specifically trained to help police in these matters of grief is brought in to help. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental issues often come into play.