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Officer Down: Police Officer Chris Jones

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January 29, 2009

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Officer Down: Police Officer Chris Jones

Officer Down: Police Officer Chris Jones - [Langhorne, Pennsylvania]

Age: 37

Cause of Death: Struck by vehicle

Officer Chris Jones was struck and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Route 1, near the I-95 interchange.

As he was returning to his patrol car two other cars collided and careened into his vehicle, which then struck him. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

Officer Jones had served with the agency for 10 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Car crash with parked cruiser kills officer

By Larry King
Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — It began as a routine traffic stop on a busy stretch of road plagued by speeding.

But within minutes, a popular suburban police officer lay fatally injured, pinned beneath his cruiser on the shoulder of northbound Route 1 in Bucks County.

Officer Chris Jones, a 10-year veteran of the Middletown Township Police Department, died of head injuries early yesterday afternoon after a chain-reaction crash pushed his parked cruiser on top of him, authorities said.

"This is the saddest day of my 51-year career," said Middletown Police Chief Frank McKenna, who had been scheduled to retire today. "I can't speak for the department, but for me it is like losing a son."

Jones, 37, was part of a traffic detail assigned to handle mounting speeding complaints along the four-lane highway near I-95 and not far from the Oxford Valley Mall. Shortly before 10:40 a.m., he pulled over a speeding sedan and parked behind it.

After citing the driver, Jones was walking back to his patrol car when another vehicle struck it from behind, pushing it toward him.

"He was struck by his own patrol car and run over," Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry said. "He was pinned beneath that vehicle."

Officers patrolling nearby and several motorists rushed to help Jones, and together lifted the cruiser off him, Henry said. The Lower Makefield Rescue Squad took him to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m.

In the interim, a crush of officers from nearby departments milled outside the emergency-room door, their cars lining the parking lot. Jones' wife, Suzanne, was inside, McKenna said, and the couple's three children, ages 12 to 16, had been summoned by police officers from their classrooms and taken to the hospital.

"Words cannot express the extent of the tragedy that has been suffered by the community in the events of today," Henry said.

She could not say whether criminal charges would be filed. County detectives "will be doing a complete and thorough investigation," she said.

The accident and investigation prompted police to shut down Route 1 in both directions. It reopened shortly after 8 last night.

The accident began when a gray Toyota sedan struck the rear of a black Pontiac, Henry said. The Toyota then continued into Jones' cruiser. Drivers in both vehicles stopped, police said, and were being interviewed yesterday. No one in those two vehicles was seriously injured, Henry said.

McKenna, his eyes red and his voice thick with emotion, said it was the first on-duty death in the history of the 54-officer department. He described Jones as a dedicated, caring, "people-oriented" officer.

"Over the years, I've received many commendations stating his ability to comfort people, to care for people," the chief said. "That part of him is definitely going to be missed in the police department."

Middletown Lt. Patrick McGinty said he had recently talked to Jones about the officer's possibly moving into a vacancy in the detective division, which McGinty heads.

"He was a fine officer with a fine family," McGinty said. "This is the worst day in our history."

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