Remembering CHP's Finest - Michael Walker (12/31/2005)

Lt. Michael Walker Killed New Year's Eve While Aiding Motorist

Michael Walker - ID 9919
Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year’s Eve turned deadly for CHP Lt. Michael Walker, I.D. 9919, when he was killed while trying to help a stranded motorist whose car had spun out on Highway 17. He was lighting flares and helping to slow traffic, and a CalTrans truck responded to the spinout as well. At about 10 p.m. another car struck the back of the CalTrans truck, which then plowed into Walker.

Sgt. Mike Redel, I.D. 13710, was with Walker that night and made the 1199 call. Lt. Walker stopped breathing at the scene. Officers Joshua Ascherman, I.D. 17514, and Jason Steinhauer, I.D. 17518, arrived almost immediately and assisted Redel with CPR efforts. Scotts Valley Police officers provided a heart defibrillator. Officer Curtis Duray, I.D. 17381, also arrived and performed CPR from the scene all the way to the hospital. Walker died about an hour later at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.

Walker, born Sept. 19, 1958, grew up in San Francisco and graduated from Riordan High School. His brother, Bob, I.D. 9095, of Auburn, is also a CHP officer, and both wanted to be highway patrol officers at an early age. Mike graduated from the CHP Academy in October 1981, and started in career in Los Angeles. After one year, he transferred to his hometown of San Francisco. In 1983, he transferred to Contra Costa, where he remained for 15 years.

Interested in pursuing a career in management, Walker worked at CHP’s Golden Gate Communications Center, promoted to sergeant, and moved to the Cordelia Inspection Facility. He promoted to his position in Santa Cruz in May 2005. Instead of uprooting his family from their home in Vacaville, Walker, an avid camper, bought a travel trailer, which he used to spend the night in state parks during the week and make the long drive home on weekends. During the summer months, his wife, Michelle, brought the couple’s two daughters, Amanda, 9, and Jennifer, 7, down to the Santa Cruz area, and the family camped together. Often, he invited along a group of friends he had camped with for years who dubbed themselves the Cordelia Trailer Trash Campers Club.

Lt. Walker made many friends during his CHP career. Lt. John Smith, I.D. 10549, of Contra Costa Area, first met him when he first got out of the Academy. Walker was his Field Training Officer, and as graduates of rival San Francisco high schools, they hit it off right away. In 1990, Smith transferred to Contra Costa and they ended up working closely together and their relationship took off. “From 1995 on, our careers were never that far apart,” Smith said. “He’s the one who suggested we take computer classes to get our educational credits. And he suggested we take the sergeant’s test together. He was always there in support; he would lay out a foundation and then throw a curveball to make you think about a different or better way to do it.”

“As a supervisor, he would never ask anyone to do something he would not do himself,” Smith said. “And when he said something was taken care of, it was. He instilled that in everyone he worked around.”

Sgt. Tom Gunther, I.D. 12010, of Cordelia Inspection Facility, said, “He’s the model of what I want to be. He was so easygoing. He would always find another way to do things, rather than ruffle feathers. He rewarded people with simple praise, and he mirrored your own performance back to you. He displayed loyalty and put everyone at ease right away.”

Officer John Granato, I.D. 13710, worked under Walker in the Golden Gate Division Field Support Unit. Part of Granato’s job was to put motorcades together when dignitaries cam e to town. “One day, Mike walks in and told me that John Kerry was coming to town and I had three days to put it together. I didn’t know where to start. But Mike said, ‘Hey, just do it, just handle it – I know you can.’ From that point on there’s nothing I feel I can’t do, because he told me I can.”

“The bottom line is that he loved what he was doing, and he loved his wife and family. He was one you never minded coming in for,” Granato said. “He didn’t forget where he came from — he never forgot the road. He’s really going to be missed.”

Lt. Smith said, “How lucky was I? The CHP was looking out for me from the moment I got out of the Academy because they put me with him. Not only did the CHP lose a great officer, but the communities of Santa Cruz, Vacaville and the Golden Gate Division all lost a great public servant.”

Gunther lives in the same community as Michelle and the girls. “Above all, Mike loved his girls — his wife and daughters,” he said. “It’s a relief to know they spent his last day together at the Monterey Aquarium.”

Mike was a loving husband, very proud father and devoted friend. He is survived by his wife, Michelle; daughters, Amanda and Jennifer; brothers James, Robert (and sister-in-law, Cheryl), and Steve (and sister-in-law, Graciela); and many extended family members and longtime friends.

The investigation into the accident is ongoing. A preliminary investigation showed no indication of drugs or alcohol. The funeral for Lt. Walker will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, at The Mission Church, 6391 Leisure Town Rd., Vacaville. There is also a viewing with a rosary on Jan. 5, 7 p.m., at St. Joseph’s Church, 1791 Marshall Rd., Vacaville.

Photo Gallery

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Talking with widow: CHP Commissioner Mike Brown talks to Michelle Walker while her daughters, Amanda and Jennifer, sit on either side. Dignitaries: Many dignitaries attended the funeral of Lt. Walker, including Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Sunne Wright-McPeak and State Controller Steve Westly. An artist painted and donated a portrait of Lt. Michael Walker. Family at funeral: Lt. Michael Walker's widow, Michelle, sat in the front row at the funeral with her daughters, Amanda and Jennifer.
Michelle Walker views the portrait of her late husband with her daughter at her side. A large number were in attendance for the funeral of Lt. Michael Walker. A choir sang as part of the funeral for Michael Walker. Flag presented: The American flag from atop the casket was folded and presented to CHP Commissioner Mike Brown.
An Irish band, in traditional attire, was part of the funeral procession. The hearse begins its departure from the church with an American flag waving overhead. Law enforcement Photo displays: Three sets of photo displays were available for all to view, showing various photos of Michael Walker.
Photos: This collage of photos displayed many photos from the childhood of Michael Walker.


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