Officer Robert “Bob” Winget left for patrol from the Ripon Police Department on the morning of April 10, 2007. He was assigned to an area in south Ripon near the banks of the Stanislaus River in the Ripon River Crossing area on his all-terrain patrol vehicle.
At 11:40 a.m. dispatchers received an “undecipherable” transmission from Winget. The Ripon Police Department set up a Mobile Command Center and began assigning Ripon Police, Fire, City Public Works and citizens in search grids to attempt to locate Officer Winget. At approximately 1:14 p.m., a Ripon Consolidated Fire District search crew located him unconscious along the river area, west of Highway 99. They immediately began C.P.R. and brought in a 4-wheel drive rescue vehicle which removed him from the area into a waiting Ripon Fire District Ambulance. He was transported to Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto, where he was pronounced deceased at approximately 2:27 p.m. from traumatic injuries associated with the crash of his all-terrain vehicle.
Officer Bob Winget is survived by his wife of 33 years, Chris; daughters Ashley, 22, Kelley, 19, Bonnie, 16; and son, Edward Amey, 36.
Winget was a US Marine who served in Viet Nam. He began his 37-year law enforcement career in the early 1970s serving LAPD for 20 years, after which he moved up north and became a deputy sheriff for Stanislaus County. There he was a longtime Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer. For the past three years he served Ripon Police Department, where his duties included working with K-9 officers and the all-terrain vehicle patrol. His partner was Topper, the department’s anti-narcotics K9.
Robert Winget was memorialized and laid to rest on April 17, 2007. Nearly 1,000 uniformed peace officers from around the state gathered with Officer Winget’s family and friends for the funeral service at First Baptist Church in Modesto. Hundreds of citizens lined the streets of Ripon and Modesto to watch the motor-procession pass on its way to Burwood cemetery, where he was laid to rest.
Among those paying respects were California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., and a spokesman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull said Officer Winget epitomized the heart and soul of a peace officer, “a fearless warrior who had seen and done it all in a 37-year career in law enforcement.”
“Bob was fearless, tough and crusty, outspoken,” Bull said, reciting a long list of adjectives that characterized the U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “He was old school, stern, the town marshal, a one-man riot, and had a huge heart of gold.”
From the Mayor of Ripon, to waitresses in the café he and his wife frequented, to his fellow officers up and down California – everyone remembered Bob as ”an honest officer dedicated to serving his hometown”…“a super neat guy and my favorite cop”…“always a jokester”…“a mentor and a friend.”
“I am going to miss him desperately,” said his wife Chris. “I’ve been with him 33 years, my whole adult life. We are going to miss his police car parked out in front of our house, and everything about him.”