Kern County Sheriff’s deputy Michael J. Bentley died after his patrol car was hit head-on by a fleeing armed robbery suspect near the town of Rosamond.
Senior Deputy Michael J. Bentley, 33, of Bakersfield, stationed at the sheriff substation in Mojave died at the Antelope Valley hospital in Lancaster about two hours after the accident on Willow Springs Road.
Bentley was pursuing an armed robbery suspect at about 5:15 p.m. on Willow Springs Road, north of Bacus Road when the crash occurred. The chase was touched off after the suspect, reportedly wielding a sawed off shotgun, robbed a Mojave mini-market and fled in a stolen pickup truck. Deputy Bentley was southbound on Willow Springs Road, and the suspect, being chased by another deputy, was northbound. The suspect came around a corner on the wrong side of the road and hit Deputy Bentley head-on.
Bentley was hired as a sheriff’s deputy in 1975, after serving in the Marine Corps. He also spent short periods of employment with the Kern Co. Parks Department as a park ranger and with the Bakersfield Police Department as a patrolman.
While working with the Kern Co. Sheriff’s Department, he received commendations on excellent police work from numerous agencies. He worked varied assignments in the sheriff’s office, including the jail, Lamont, patrol, detectives and Mojave Substation.
While working on the afternoon shift that day, he was pursuing an armed robbery suspect in the Mojave area at high rates of speed. The suspect wanted to commit suicide by ramming Bentley’s patrol car head on, but instead received a cut lip. He was taken into custody and tentatively charged with murder, robbery and auto theft.
Bentley was survived by his wife, Shirley, and a stepson, Doug.
Bentley’s great sense of humor and loyalty to his friends and job will be sorely missed, but his memory will last forever.