On the afternoon of June 3 the California Highway Patrol lost one of its most highly respected and decorated motor officers. Officer James Goodman, a 20-year CHP veteran assigned to the San Bernardino office, was in a high speed pursuit of a hit and run suspect in the Redlands area when his motorcycle collided with a mini-van that had entered an intersection in his path. Officer Goodman was transported by ambulance to the Loma Linda Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Fellow officers who knew Goodman were in shock and disbelief at the news of his death. Mark Muscardini, President of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, who had worked side by side with Goodman in the 1980’s out of the Oakland office, expressed the attitude of many, “I was really shocked to hear Jim Goodman was killed in a motorcycle accident, because he was probably the most proficient motorcycle officer we have“.
Muscardini recalled that Goodman’s most heroic moment came in the devastating Bay Area Loma Prieta earth quake in 1989. “Jim was the first officer on the scene that evening, and, removing his helmet and gun belt due to limited space, actually crawled into a portion of the collapsed freeway structure, saving people. It was one of the most heroic events in CHP history that I am familiar with”.
For his courageous acts on that day in October, 1989 Officer James Goodman was awarded the Department’s prestigious Medal of Valor.
Goodman’s many colleagues and friends all agreed that “his large stature belied the nicest, most soft-spoken, well-mannered person you’d ever want to meet. Someone that they would never forget”. One officer observed “Goodman’s name pretty much described the kind of person he was, James Goodman was a good man”.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the flags that fly over the Capitol to half staff in honor of the fallen hero and expressed the personal condolences of he and the first lady to the Goodman family.
On Wednesday morning, June 9, family members, friends, neighbors and fellow officers were joined by several hundred peace officers from a multitude of jurisdictions to pay their final respects to one of California’s finest.
The Rock Church in San Bernardino was filled to over-flowing, where Goodman was eulogized by brother officers and members of the CHP command staff. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, ever present at law enforcement funerals, expressed condolences on behalf of the people of California.
Officer Goodman is survived by his wife Patricia and two adult sons, Jacob and Joshua.
The family has requested that any remembrances be made in the name of James Goodman to the Leukemia Foundation, 820 Davis Street, Suite 420, Evanston, IL 60201.