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Montana highway trooper dies in fatal crash

By The Associated Press
Officer Down: Trooper David A. Graham

KALISPELL, Mont.  A Montana Highway Patrol trooper died in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 2 near here Tuesday morning, the fifth patrolman killed in the line of duty in the 72-year history of the patrol.

David Graham, 36, was southbound at about 9:30 a.m. when a northbound Dodge pickup drifted across the center turn lane and struck Graham's vehicle. He died at the scene, the state Justice Department said in a release.

Flathead County officials say a female driving the pickup truck was taken to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Her name and age haven't been released, but officials say she was listed in stable condition.

MHP wants to talk to the driver of a white vehicle that had to swerve to avoid hitting the beige-colored Dodge pickup shortly before the fatal wreck occurred. Graham is from Kalispell and joined the patrol in August 2006. He is survived by his wife and three young children.

"We lost a colleague, a fine man and a good officer. He loved his job," said Lt. Col. Mike Tooley.

"The best thing we can do for David is to keep doing what we're here to do. We're not going to forget him," Tooley said. "We'll do our best job in his honor."

It has been nearly 30 years since a patrolman has died in the line of duty.

Michael Ren died on April 8, 1978, near Eureka. He had pulled over a man with an outstanding warrant and was approaching the vehicle with his gun drawn when the suspect pulled a rifle and shot him.

Officer Richard Hedstrom was struck and killed by a pickup while writing a warning ticket on July 19, 1973; Officer James Anderson had pulled over a vehicle on Bozeman Hill on Aug. 1, 1954, when a vehicle coming from the opposite direction struck and killed him; and on Nov. 2, 1946, Patrolman Robert Steele was approaching a suspected getaway car in an armed robbery when he was shot in the neck.

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