CHP officer David W. Manning, who had been in a coma since he was found unconscious next to his crashed patrol motorcycle on Jan. 26, died at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield on February 15, 1996.
Manning, 31, a seven-year CHP veteran, was found beside his motorcycle seven hours after he left his duty station while driving home from work.
Manning’s last ride on his Kawasaki Police 1000 began late Jan. 25. His shift ended at 10 p.m., and he left for the ride home from CHP headquarters at about 10:15 p.m. He rode onto southbound Highway 99, heading to his home.
He was last seen by a pair of graveyard-shift officers who passed him on the freeway about 10:20 p.m., CHP spokesman Mack Wimbish said. They noticed nothing amiss.
When the officer hadn’t arrived home more than four hours later, his wife, Melissa, called the CHP for help in locating him. Bakersfield police and Kern County Sheriff’s deputies joined in a two-hour search before the downed officer was found near his regular route home from work.
He was found just after dawn in an oat field just north of his home. Manning underwent brain surgery shortly after he was found, but never regained consciousness. It appeared as if his motorcycle had simply run off the end of the road and crashed, investigators said.
Despite extensive investigation the CHP found no indication that any other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The Bakersfield native and Highland High School graduate was described as an avid baseball player, athlete and family man who just moved into a new home with Melissa and his 2-year-old daughter Hannah.
Manning was one of the first officers assigned to the local CHP’s motorcycle detail last year, when the patrol was pressed back into service after a 25-year hiatus. But the officer already had four years of experience with motorcycle work after graduating from the police academy and working as a motor patrol officer in east Los Angeles, said his father, Wayne Manning.