BAKERVILLE, Colo. -- A young Colorado highway patrolman died during the search for a group of escaped prison inmates from Texas when his squad car struck a trailer parked at a highway exit near the eastern end of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
State Trooper Jason Mainspeaker, 25, was on his way to investigate a report of a suspicious van at the time of the crash early Tuesday morning. The van proved to belong to a construction worker .
Trooper Jeff Matthews, who was waiting by the van for backup, watched in his rear-view mirror as Mainspeaker's Jeep Cherokee skidded on the icy roadway. Matthews' attempts to save his friend failed.
Four members of the group known as the "Texas Seven" were arrested later Tuesday at a Colorado Springs motel. Another man killed himself, and the remaining two surrendered Wednesday. The escapees are suspected of killing a police officer during a holdup in Texas.
Mainspeaker's police experience dated back to his high school days when he was involved with an Explorer Scout program run by the Montrose Police Dept. He sometimes rode with state troopers during his college years.
"That was his No. 1 aspiration his whole life, to be involved in law
enforcement. He just had one of those burning desires," Tom Chinn, a
Montrose police patrol commander, told the Denver Post.
Mainspeaker is survived by his wife, Stephanie. Contributions can be