11/12/2003

Wisconsin Sheriff's Deputy Killed in Crash

Officer Down: Deputy Sheriff Richard Meyer - [Winnebago County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin]

By Becky Freemal, WBAY-TV News

Hearts are very heavy in Winnebago County, Wisc., where a sheriff's deputy died when his squad car crashed Thursday morning. Deputy Rick Meyer leaves behind a wife and a one-year-old son, along with more than 100 officers and staff at the sheriff's department struggling to deal with his sudden death.

Flags are flying at half-staff at the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department. That's where Deputy Meyer, 27, began his shift at 10 o'clock Wednesday night. Thursday, around 4:30 a.m., a passer-by found his wrecked squad car.

"It was reported to us by a passerby at 4:42 a.m. The last contact we had with him was about 3:09," when he was told he may have to help a fellow officer on a call, Sheriff Mike Brooks said.

According to the sheriff's department, Meyer was driving east on Breezewood Lane near Pendleton Road in Neenah, where he drove into a road construction zone and lost control. The squad car started to overturn, hit a front-end loader parked on the road, then overturned completely.

Sheriff Brooks described Meyers as a "very well-liked officer, very dedicated. He was a real hard worker, and I mention the SWAT team especially because he took such great pride in being selected to that team."

Sheriff Brooks said as far as he knows, Deputy Meyer is the first Winnebago County officer to die on duty.

Wisconsin State Patrol experts spent Thursday reconstructing the accident scene while investigators dealt with the challenge of finding anyone who may have seen the crash.

"I can tell you we have a team of investigators working on this crash that are the best in the State Patrol," Lt. Nick Scorcio said.

Neighbors right next to the crash heard very little. Many assumed any noise was coming from construction crews who have worked on Breezewood for weeks.

Leonard Bekx said, "He asked if I heard or saw anything. I said nope, nothing. Only thing we heard were the ambulances and police cars."

"It was very, very windy last night. It's all we heard."

Neighbors told us the road construction can make the area difficult to navigate. "I've seen cars try to get through and turn around and come back. Road Closed signs are all over, but it's hard to tell where you're supposed to go," Jackie Lenph said.
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