Fallen Officers

Deputy John N. Wren
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
July 5, 1889
 
Deputy John Wren was shot and killed as he attempted to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect. Deputy Wren had served with the agency for only six months. He was survived by his wife and three children.
Deputy Oscar A. Beaver
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
August 6, 1892
 
Deputy Oscar Beaver was shot and killed as he attempted to arrest two notorious California train robbers, Chris Evans and John Sontag. The suspects later shot and killed U.S. Deputy Marshal Vernon Wilson and Deputy Marshal Andrew McGennis the following month when they attempted to arrest the two suspects at Sampsons Flat in Fresno County. A little less than a year later, Sontag was shot and killed and Evans was apprehended after a gun battle with a posse. Evans lost an eye and his right hand in the fight.
 
Chris Evans was convicted of the murder of all three officers and sentenced to life in Folsom Prison. He was paroled in 1912.
 
Deputy Beaver was survived by his wife and 3-year-old son and is buried at Lemoore Cemetery in Lemoore, California.
 
 
City Marshal George Martin
Tulare Police Department, California
October 18, 1903
 
George Martin, Tulare’s first slain officer,  was the town’s marshal for barely six months when he was shot in the abdomen, while trying to arrest an unruly saloon keeper during the city’s massive water bond burning celebration in October 1903.
 
 
Constable Robert A. Carter
Tulare Police Department, California
October 6 1918
 
Constable Carter was shot and killed when he confronted an armed robbery suspect on a city street. Constable Carter was wounded in the initial shootout and fell to the ground. The suspect then walked up to him and shot him in the head, killing him. The man was taken into custody by a group of citizens. He was hanged at San Quentin State Prison on March 1, 1919.
 
 
Officer George Owen Barlow
Lindsay Police Department, California
October 1, 1935
 
Officer George Barlow was shot and killed when he responded to a domestic disturbance call. He was shot in the abdomen with a .22 caliber rifle as he walked across the front yard of the home. Although wounded, he was able to return fire and killed the suspect.
 
He Barlow succumbed to his wounds 12 days later.
 
Officer Barlow had served with the agency for six years. He was survived by his wife and eight children.
 
 
Officer Norman A. Kessler
CHP – Visalia, California
May 17, 1945
 
Officer Kessler was killed in a motorcycle accident after the front wheel of his bike began to wobble. He had served with the California Highway Patrol for three years.
 
 
Officer Richard L. Simpson
CHP – Porterville, California
September 25, 1946
 
Officer Richard L. Simpson, 30, was responding to the scene of an automobile accident in Porterville when a motorist turned in front of the officer and struck his motorcycle broadside. The impact flung the patrolman to the ground, killed him almost instantly. The driver was jailed and booked for manslaughter. Simpson, a World War II veteran, had recently returned to duty with the department after three years of service in the U.S. Army.
 
 
Sergeant Charles Garrison
Visalia Police Department, California
November 6 1946
 
Sergeant Garrison was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a suspect auto thief. During the arrest a shootout ensued and both Sergeant Garrison and the suspect were fatally wounded.
Sergeant Garrison had been with the agency for a total of eight years and was a WWII veteran.
 
 
Officer Richard Wellington Smith
Tulare Police Department, California
January 11, 1947
 
Officer Smith was shot and killed while he and other officers searched for a suspect in the basement of a hotel. The suspect was wanted for failing to appear in court for assaulting his girlfriend with a knife. The suspect was hiding in a storeroom and saw Officer Smith through a crack in the wall. The man opened fire through a wooden partition, fatally wounding Officer Smith.
 
In 1978 a street was named Richard Smith Street in honor of Officer Smith. Officer Smith was survived by his wife and mother.
 
 
Deputy Carl O. Johnson
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
September 30, 1951
 
Special Deputy Johnson succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained two months earlier while attempting to arrest a man who had stolen a car. The suspect shot Special Deputy Johnson in the shoulder with a .22 caliber rifle. The suspect was shot and wounded by a citizen and taken into custody.
 
Special Deputy Johnson was initially taken to Porterville Hospital, but was later transferred to a San Francisco hospital for treatment to an injured nerve as a result of the gunshot wound. He underwent surgery to remove the bullet and to try to repair his arm, but died the day following the surgery.
 
Special Deputy Johnson had only been sworn in as a deputy two months prior to the shooting. He was survived by his wife, two step sons, a brother, and a sister.
 
 
Deputy Ross C. Cochran
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
November 19, 1951
 
Deputy Ross Cochran was killed in an automobile accident on Highway 99 while en route to a burglary call.
 
His vehicle collided with another car that had been traveling on the wrong side of the two-lane road.
 
Deputy Cochran had only been employed with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office for two months, but had been in law enforcement for over 20 years.
 
 
Officer John R. Ellis
CHP – Visalia, California
November 5, 1963
 
Officer John R. Ellis and his partner, Officer Delton S. Lawless, were responding to an accident call when their patrol unit skidded on a rain-slicked roadway outside Visalia and crashed into a grove of trees. Both officers were wearing seat belts and Lawless, the driver, was able to extricate himself and his partner from the wrecked patrol car. Officer Ellis had been killed instantly. The 35-year-old patrol officer had been a member of the CHP for five years.
 
 
Deputy Vernon L. Cox
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
April 15, 1965
 
Deputy Vernon Cox was killed in an automobile accident when the cruiser he was riding in was struck by another vehicle. The officers were en route to recover stolen property. Both other officers recovered from their injuries.
 
Deputy Cox had served with the agency for 13 months. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons.
 
 
Deputy Carlos Magana
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
December 9, 1970
 
Deputy Magana was killed when his patrol car was struck by a train in heavy fog at an unprotected crossing on State Route 201 near Cutler, California. At the time of the accident he was responding to a possible burglar alarm at the Stone Corral Irrigation Water District office.
 
Deputy Magana had served with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office for 2 years. He had previously served as assistant chief of the Fowler Police Department for 8 years. He was survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons.
 
 
Officer Thomas J. Scroth
Exeter Police Department, California
October 22, 1975
 
Patrolman Thomas Schroth was shot and killed while investigating an earlier domestic disturbance involving a firearm. He had been dispatched to the local hospital to interview the female subject. When he arrived at the hospital he was ambushed by the male subject in the parking lot, who opened fire with a shotgun.
 
The suspect then committed suicide after murdering Patrolman Schroth.
 
Patrolman Schroth was survived by his wife and 8-month-old daughter.
 
 
Detective Monty L. Conley
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
August 5, 1985
 
Detective Monty Conley died August 5, 1985, as a result of a traffic accident while investigating a narcotic's case. The crash also killed was his partner, Detective Joseph Landin. A driver ran a stop sign and slammed into the deputies' patrol unit on the Highway 99 and Avenue 120 off ramp.
 
The driver was subsequently sentenced to five years, four months in prison on the conviction of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
 
The deputies were members of the Tulare County Sheriff's Narcotic's Task Force. Prior to joining the Department, Conley worked as a patrol officer for Woodlake Police Department from 1972 to 1973.
 
Conley joined the Sheriff's Department in 1973. He worked in various divisions, most recently serving as assistant commander of the narcotics division. He was voted Officer of The Year by the Visalia Optimists Club this spring and was a member of the California Narcotics Task Force.
 
He lived in Woodlake with is wife, Rosalie, and their 7-year-old son, Matthew Earl. 
 
 
Detective Joe R. Landin
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
August 5, 1985
 
Detective Joseph Landin died August 5, 1985, as a result of a traffic accident while investigating a narcotic’s case. Also killed was his partner, Detective Monty Conley.
 
A driver ran a stop sign and slammed into the deputies’ patrol unit on the Highway 99 and Avenue 120 off ramp. The driver was subsequently sentenced to five years, four months in prison on the conviction of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
 
The deputies were members of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Narcotic’s Task Force. Prior to joining the Department in 1981, Landin was a patrol officer for the Woodlake Police Department from 1974 to 1981. Landin, 34, lived in Woodlake at the time of his death.
 
He left a wife, Betty, and three small children.
 
 
Deputy Michael R. Egan
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
May 2, 1989
 
Deputy Egan died on May 2, 1989, as a result of a traffic accident while on his way to Porterville Municipal Court to testify in a narcotic’s case. A woman failed to stop at a red light and collided with Egan’s patrol unit. He died at the scene of the accident.
 
Egan came to Tulare County Sheriff’s Department in July of 1983 after serving nine years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He was a member of the Department’s Special Tactical Enforcement Patrol, a unit within the Sheriff’s detective division. He is survived by his wife, Joann; daughters, Michelle and Nicole; and son, Robert.
 
 
Reserve Officer Ronald Hills
Dinuba Police Department, California
August 5, 1992
 
Ron Hills, the only Dinuba officer to die in the line of duty, died in 1992 while chasing a suspect who had stolen beer from a convenience store.
 
After the Neon hit the Salazar's truck broadside, police learned it had been stolen earlier that day in a mugging behind a restaurant in Selma. Three men approached David Sperl, 26, and demanded his wallet and keys. When he resisted, police said, they pulled a handgun and took his cell phone, wallet and car.
 
 
Ranger James R. Morgenson
National Park Service, California
July 20, 1996
 
Ranger James (Randy) Morgenson drowned after being swept over a waterfall while on a back country patrol in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, California. Other rangers began to search for him after he failed to check in with dispatch at the regular time following the first day of the patrol.
 
Despite an exhaustive search, his remains were not found until July 2001, nearly five years after he went missing. The investigation indicated that he likely fell through a snow drift and broke his leg while crossing a creek, dying of associated injuries and hypothermia. His remains were washed down the creek and into a small cascade where they were hidden in the rocks for years.
 
Ranger Morgenson had served with the agency for 27 years. He was survived by his wife.
 
 
Officer James J. Rapozo
Visalia Police Department, California
January 9, 1998
 
Officer James Rapozo died in surgery at 1750 hours from a gunshot wound he suffered during a SWAT raid. The shootout also left one suspect dead and another man injured.
 
Officer Rapozo, a member of the SWAT team, was the first Visalia officer to die in the line of fire since 1946. He was wearing a bulletproof vest but the bullet hit his body in the underarm area and entered his chest. He was taken to Kaweah Delta Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
 
The suspect who was killed was wanted in a shooting that left five people injured on Christmas Eve.
 
Officer Rapozo is survived by his wife, daughter, and son.
 
 
Deputy Kevin E. Elium
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
October 7, 2005
 
On the evening of October 6, 2005, Deputy Kevin Elium, a five year veteran of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, was on patrol in Porterville with volunteer sheriff’s chaplain Lee Sorenson. At approximately 2100 hours Deputy Elium answered a call to back up a fellow deputy on a high-risk traffic stop in the Strathmore area. As he attempted to pass a car with lights and siren on, his patrol car went off the narrow roadway and hit a tree.
 
The driver of the car Elium was passing witnessed the crash and was first to call 911 dispatchers on a cell phone. Both Elium and Sorenson were pinned in the patrol call. After about 25 minutes, Sorenson, age 73, was pulled from the car by rescue crews and taken to Sierra View District Hospital, where he since recovered from his injuries. It took approximately another hour to free Elium from the wreckage. He was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center in Fresno. He died at the hospital shortly after midnight on October 7.
 
Elium served in the U.S. Army and worked as an emergency medical technician in the South Valley for ten years. He was hired by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department after graduating from the College of the Sequoias Police Academy in 2001. He worked first in the detentions division and later transferred to transportation. He was promoted to patrol duties in 2004, working from the sheriff’s Porterville substation.
 
Deputy Elium is survived by his three children, parents, and foster parents.
 
 
Detective Kent Haws
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
December 17, 2007
 
Detective Kent Haws died in the line of duty on December 17, 2007. Detective Haws was checking a suspicious subject along an orchard north of the town of Ivanhoe when he was shot by the suspect.
 
Detective Haws was rushed to Kaweah Delta District Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Detective Haws, age 38, graduated from College of the Sequoias Police Academy in December of 1998. He was a member of the SWAT team and Search and Rescue team. Haws served the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years.
 
He is survived by his wife Frances and their three children Dominic, Nicholas and Evan.
 
 
Sergeant Greg Hernandez
Tulare County Sheriff Office, California
February 6, 2009
 
Sergeant Greg Hernandez died in the line of duty on February 6, 2009. Sergeant Greg Hernandez was responding to a call to assist one of his deputies when he collided with a tractor trailer on the evening of January 29, 2009. Sergeant Hernandez rushed to Fresno Regional Medical Center where he later succumbed to his injuries.
 
Sergeant Hernandez, age 50, graduated from College of the Sequoias Police Academy in May of 1984. He worked in a number of specialized units such as Narcotics, SWAT and was a Hostage Negotiator. Hernandez served the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years.
 
He is survived by his Mother, Rosa, fiancé Carrie Lawrence and his daughter Kristina.
 
 
Deputy Jeremy Meyst
Tulare County Sheriff's Department
December 24, 2013
 
On Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at approximately 0239 hours, three different civilians called dispatch to report a traffic accident involving a Sheriff’s Inmate transportation van.  The van was found on Road 204 south of Highway 198 near the Friant Kern Canal Bridge.  No other vehicles were present.
 
Officers from the Woodlake and Exeter Police Departments arrived on scene and began to perform CPR on the driver who had been ejected from the vehicle.  A Sheriff’s Sergeant also arrived on scene.
 
Two inmates were still in the vehicle and received minor injuries that were treated.  All parties were transported to a local area hospital for treatment.
 
Deputy Jeremy Meyst was raised in the Visalia area.  He was a 2001 graduate from Mount Whitney High School.  Deputy Meyst was hired by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department in October of 2004 as a Detention Services Officer.  In April of 2006, he was promoted to Correctional Deputy.  His last assignment was at the Sheriff’s Main Jail Facility.
 
Deputy Meyst is survived by his parents, Judy and Gerald Meyst; his wife Sarah; and two sons, Joshua and Jack.
 
 
Deputy Scott Ballantyne
Tulare County Sheriff's Office
End of Watch: Wednesday, February 10, 2016
 

Deputy Sheriff Scott Ballantyne and Mr. James Chavez, a civilian pilot, were killed in an airplane crash near Lake Success at approximately 4:15 pm.

The aircraft was assisting deputies on the ground search for a subject wanted for brandishing a firearm. It was preparing to leave the area after the suspect was arrested when it suddenly lost altitude and crashed into a mountain in the area of Route 190 in Springville.

Deputy Ballantyne and Mr. Chavez were the only two occupants of the CTLE ultralight.

Deputy Ballantyne had served with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office for 27 years. He is survived by his mother and sister.