Remembering CHP's Finest

Memorial fountain at the CHP Academy. Photo courtesy Ron Cohan.

Since the California Highway Patrol was formed 75 years ago, over 200 officers have been killed on the job.

Howard Garlinger, assigned to the Kern Area, was the first Highway Patrolman to die. He was killed Oct. 30, 1929, in a motorcycle accident.

Over the years, officers have died in aircraft or motor crashes or have been senselessly shot just because they wore a badge. Some were killed by reckless or distracted drivers as they were performing everyday stops on the side of the road.

June 2010 was a devastating month for the CHP family. One month after losing Officer Daniel Benavides, four more officers lost their lives in the line of duty, leaving friends, families and fellow officers stunned and filled with grief.  

On June 11, 2010, Officer Tom Coleman sustained fatal injuries in a collision while in pursuit of a fleeing suspect. Two days earlier, on June 9, Officer Philip Ortiz was hit by an oncoming vehicle on the right shoulder  while conducting an enforcement  stop. He succumbed to his injuries on June 22.

Sunday, June 27 was a very sad day. Both Officer Justin McGrory, and Officer Brett Oswald were struck and killed by motorists in separate incidents. Early that morning, at about 3:38 a.m., Officer Justin McGrory, and Officer Ryan Bostrom, from Barstow Area, were on a traffic stop on northbound I-15, when a red 2009 Pontiac G6 veered onto the right shoulder, clipped the right rear of the patrol vehicle, then continued and struck Officer McGrory.

That evening, at 5:54 p.m., Officer Brett Oswald, of Templeton Area, responded to an abandoned vehicle partially blocking the southbound lane of South River Road. A Toyota Corolla driven by a 22-year-old woman crossed over the double yellow lines and struck Officer Oswald in the parked patrol vehicle at the driver's door area.

We are humbled by the strength of character and pride that each of these officers possessed, and find ourselves inspired by the lives they led. They will never be forgotten.

A listing of these names, as well as every CHP line-of-duty death can be viewed below.

In July 12, 1995, 271 uniformed State Police officers of the State Police became part of the 5,713 sworn officers of the Highway Patrol. Prior to that date, several State Police officers also died in the line of duty. Select "State Police" below to see the page in honor of those fallen officers.

Each year the staff of the CHP's Zenith 12000 is charged with the creation of the Badges of Honor memorial magazine. This magazine, printed and distributed during the Academy memorial, is the CHP tribute to each of our 225 heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duties to the state of California. View the 2015 edition of the Badges of Honor memorial magazine.

9 California Highway Patrol in-the-line-of-duty deaths

Last NameFirst NameRankBadgeDate of DeathCauseArticle
1GonzalezJuan STO18935 2/17/2014Auto » Read More
2LawBrian STO18896 2/17/2014Auto » Read More
3YoungstromKenyon STO18063 9/5/2012Gunshot » Read More
4AdamsThomas STO19365 2/15/2011Auto » Read More
5McGroryJustin STO18606 6/27/2010Auto » Read More
6OswaldBrett STO13164 6/27/2010Auto » Read More
7OrtizPhilip STO10428 6/22/2010Auto » Read More
8ColemanTom STO17338 6/11/2010Motor » Read More
9BenavidesDan STO15193 5/7/2010Airplane » Read More

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