By PoliceOne Staff
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Officer Jefferson “Jeff” Taylor of the Riverside (Mo.) Police Department, who was struck by lightning while aiding in relief efforts in the wake of the Joplin tornado, passed away at in Springfield (Mo.) today. Family members were at his side at St. John’s Hospital — where he had undergone successful skin graft surgery and was being treated for other complications related to injuries he suffered in that incident on Monday, May 23 — when he died. Taylor is the first officer in the history of Riverside Police Department to die in the line of duty.
Taylor was part of Riverside’s 12-member contingent of police officers, firefighters, and public works staff members who responded to the Joplin tornado disaster. On the evening after the tornado, as a new line of storms moved through the Joplin area, Taylor had just returned to a command post when lightning struck the ground near where he was working.
In a written statement, Greg Mills, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety for the City of Riverside, said: “Jeff Taylor volunteered to assist with the Joplin disaster recovery. He was a highly dedicated officer and a devoted public servant, and we will always remember his sacrifice.”
Taylor — who is the first emergency responder to die as a result of the May 22 Joplin tornado — joined the Riverside Police Department in 2005 and was named Officer of the Year in 2008.
While departing this world he was still able to save three more people today. His liver and kidneys are being donated to those waiting and three more lives will be spared due to Jeffs generosity.
Cards and messages are welcome:
City of Riverside Police Department
2990 NW Vivion Road
Riverside, MO 64150
In addition, an account has been established in honor of Officer Taylor to assist his family with expenses:
Taylor Benefit Account
K.C. Police Credit Union
2800 East 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64127