A state Fish and Game Department warden, Roy “John” Reed, was killed when his pickup truck overturned in a muddy cotton field west of Bakersfield while pursuing a small car.
Lt. Reed, 57, was a warden for 28 years, 26 of them in Kern County and talked about retiring in October. Reed began a 34-year career a protector of our natural resources and heritage, as a state Fish and Game Hatchery Assistant. He spent six years in this assignment and in 1956 he became a warden. His first assignment was as a Boarding Officer on a patrol boat in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. In 1958 he transferred to Taft and in 1961 he was assigned to Bakersfield.
This began a long and close working relationship with the Kern County Sheriff’s department. Through this association, Reed also became a member of the Sheriff’s Aero Squadron, giving his expert knowledge of the mountains and back roads, during downed aircraft searches.
The accident occurred on a dirt road south of Stockdale Highway and 1 ½ miles west of Buena Vista Road, in an area another warden described as a favorite of dove poachers. Officials were told of the chase by Charles Durham, 65, a relative of Reed’s who also was riding in the pickup. Durham was able to walk down the road and signal a city water truck. Durham said the warden had pulled up behind a parked bllue or tan car on the levee near the Kern River. The car was driven away, and Reed pursued the vehicle at speeds between 50 and 60 miles per hour.
When the pickup hit a large puddle, Reed apparently lost control of the truck, the vehicle swerved into the field and rolled. It landed on its wheels and sank into the soft earth. Reed was thrown out and landed face down in the muddy water.
His wife, Shirley Jean, and three children survive Lt. Reed. Their son, Walter, recently took the warden examination and is on the list of eligibles.