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A Sixth CHP Officer Is Killed

Times Staff Writer

A 10-year California Highway Patrol veteran died after he was struck by a car driven by a suspected drunk driver in the Cajon Pass, the sixth CHP officer to die in the line of duty in five months.

Motorcycle Officer John Bailey, 36, was headed home to Adelanto on Saturday night when he pulled over a suspected drunk driver in a Ford Ranger pickup on Interstate 15 north of Oak Hill Road, said Tony Nguyen, a CHP public affairs officer.

As the officer stood talking with the pickup’s driver on the side of the road at 10:30 p.m., a second suspected drunk driver, Domingo Esqueda, veered off the freeway, struck Bailey’s motorcycle and the pickup truck, then smashed into the officer, Nguyen said.

The officer was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Nguyen said. Esqueda, 20, of Adelanto was also taken to the medical center, where he remained Sunday. On his release, he will be arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, Nguyen said.

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The driver of the pickup truck was also injured and taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Authorities have not decided if he will be charged.

Even though his shift had just ended, Bailey was in uniform and had turned on the flashing lights on his motorcycle when he pulled the driver over, so his death will be classified as having occurred in the line of duty.

The officer had returned in November from a 14-month tour of duty in Iraq, where he was stationed with the California National Guard.

Bailey was the first officer killed in the 13-year history of the close-knit Rancho Cucamonga CHP office, where about 75 officers are based. He is survived by his wife, Teresa; daughters Hannah and Megan; and sons Jared and Dylan.

Born in Ann Arbor, Mich., he was known for his love of all things cowboy and was often seen sporting a hat, trench coat and big belt buckle on his way to listen to country western music, colleagues said. He began his CHP career in Barstow, where he was based for five years before moving to the Rancho Cucamonga office.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered Capitol flags to be flown at half staff.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for his service and sorrow over his passing,” the governor said in a statement. “The California Highway Patrol has lost another family member in what has been a tragic few months.”

“It certainly has been a traumatic time,” said Fran Clader, a CHP spokeswoman.

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Eleven CHP officers were killed from September 2000 through September 2005, about twice as many as have died in the last five months. The force has lost 209 officers in its 75-year history.

Bailey’s death came just a few days after the funeral on Thursday of CHP Officer Earl Scott, 36, who was fatally shot Feb. 17 during a traffic stop on California 99 north of Modesto. A Stockton man was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with Scott’s death after walking into Stockton police headquarters to talk to authorities about the morning shooting.

Before Scott’s death, Lt. Mike Walker, 47, was killed Dec. 31 when a car lost control and caused a chain-reaction crash on California 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

On Dec. 21, Officer Erick Manny, 35, was killed when he lost control of his car while chasing a motorist near the Grapevine exit on Interstate 5 in Kern County. The four-year veteran was a father of two.

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On Nov. 17, Officer Andrew Stevens, 37, was shot to death during a traffic stop in Woodland, near Sacramento. Two men, including the son of a Bay Area police officer, and a woman were arrested later and charged in connection with Stevens’ death. He was a 13-year CHP veteran.

On Sept. 23, motorcycle Officer David Romero, 47, was stopped at a red light in Industry when he was struck from behind by a driver believed to have been drunk. A suspect was arrested later and charged with Romero’s death. The father of five was a 23-year department veteran.


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