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Oakland, Calif. Motorcycle Officer Killed in Hit-Run

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July 22, 2004

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Oakland, Calif. Motorcycle Officer Killed in Hit-Run

Officer Down: William "Will" Seuis - [Oakland, California]

By Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle

A popular Oakland police motorcycle officer returning home from work was struck and killed Thursday on a San Leandro freeway by a hit-and-run trucker who was later arrested, authorities said.

Officer William "Will" Seuis, 39, of Pleasanton, a well-respected 15-year veteran, was in full uniform and riding his 2001 Harley-Davidson police motorcycle when he was hit at 2:11 p.m. by a white 1996 Freightliner truck as it changed lanes on eastbound Highway 238 at Ashland Avenue.

"The trailer did hit the officer, knocked him off his bike, and he was pulled underneath the trailer's tires," said Officer Dan Hesser of the California Highway Patrol.

Seuis died at 3:30 p.m. while undergoing surgery at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. Fellow officers and relatives converged at the hospital after hearing of the accident. Seuis leaves behind his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters.

"Will was loved and admired by his fellow officers," said Police Chief Richard Word. "He was as steady as they come, someone any good officer would want as a partner. Any chief would love to have a department of Will Seuises.

"Our thoughts and prayers are now with his family."

Less than 15 minutes after the collision, a California Highway Patrol officer spotted the truck on eastbound 580 near Hacienda Drive in Dublin and stopped it, 14 miles from the scene of the crash. The truck's license plate and description matched the one provided by witnesses, Hesser said.

The suspect, Carlos Mares, 37, of Union City was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter and booked at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. His truck was impounded and will be examined for evidence today, authorities said.

Mares refused to speak to investigators, who must still determine who was at fault, the CHP said. Even if motorists are cleared of wrongdoing in such cases, "it's every motorist's responsibility and duty to remain at the scene of a collision," Hesser said.

At 6:15 p.m. Thursday, a contingent of Oakland police and Alameda County sheriff's motorcycle officers accompanied a county van with Seuis' body inside to the coroner's office in Oakland.

Although Seuis was headed home after completing his shift, Oakland traffic officers wear their uniform and are considered on-duty until they arrive home with their motorcycles, officials said.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

"He was a dedicated officer," said Oakland traffic Lt. Dave Kozicki. "He was committed to the Oakland Police Department. He felt that what he was doing as far as being a traffic officer was a valuable contribution to police work."

Seuis was a veteran traffic investigator who worked countless crashes, including high-profile cases such as one collision in which a man plowed a speeding car into a group of children in January 2002, only to ask about his future and not the status of his victims. One girl died.

Oakland police Sgt. Ersie Joyner said Seuis helped an Oakland police basketball team win the gold medal several years ago at the Police Olympics.

"He was a good-natured guy," Joyner said. "He wouldn't hesitate to drop everything and help you out."

Thursday's crash backed up traffic as investigators closed southbound Highway 238 for about an hour.

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