A rookie California Highway Patrol officer was killed and his partner was injured September 30, when they were struck by a car while investigating a minor accident on the Long Beach Freeway in Bell, the CHP reported.
A CHP spokesman said the officers were run down as they were getting back into their patrol car on a narrow strip between the northbound fast lane and the low center barrier after talking to the occupants of three cars involved in an earlier non-injury collision. Officer Autry was thrown into the center divider guardrail and died instantly.
The dead officer was identified by the coroner’s office as Terry Wayne Autrey, 28, of Upland. He reportedly was hurled more than 20 feet by the impact. Officer Jill Angel said he had been out of the CHP academy only 16 days and was being trained by his partner, Michael R. Price, 34.
Price was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where a spokesman said he was in fair condition, complaining of back, head and neck pain.
The motorist who ran into the officers stopped within a short distance, the CHP said, and was released after several hours of questioning by investigators. He was identified as John Adam Schirra, 35, of Walnut.
Patrolman Mike Maas said Schirra apparently tried to drive around the right side of the CHP car, but struck the rear right side of it just as Autrey was climbing into the passenger seat. Price was already behind the steering wheel.
Angel said the drivers and passengers in the cars that were involved in the initial accident were the only known witnesses. She described them as “very shaken up.” One woman reportedly became hysterical.
The accident about brought freeway traffic in both directions to a virtual halt for miles. All four northbound lanes were closed for four hours.
Autrey, who began his career at the East Los Angeles office on Sept. 2, was the father of two sons, Jeremy, 5, and Nicholas, 4. His wife, Roberta, 27, is expecting a third child, the CHP said.
Autrey was the first CHP officer to be killed in Los Angeles County since 1981. He was the 164th CHP officer to die in the line of duty since 1929, when the agency was formed, a spokesman said in Sacramento.
– Los Angeles Times