Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Night of Tragedy

On a night I'm out of town on vacation, an officer is shot and killed and two news helicopters crash in midair.

48 hours after the collision, the crash scene is still taped off as investigators drain a small lagoon to retrieve wreckage from one of the fallen helicopters.

This is the view from my patrol car as I sit perched on a small hill overlooking the site. My job is to ensure nobody enters the area.

I decide to walk over and get a better look at the impact site. The wreckage has already been collected and all that remains is a blackened spot on the grass and a shallow pool of aircraft oil. A small tree has been charred and stripped of its foliage. A similar scene lies a few dozens yards away.

Pieces from one of the helicopters landed in a nearby pond. As I stood by, divers were preparing to search the partially drained pond. I could see several pieces of metal exposed on the muddy floor of the lagoon as the water levels receded.

The same night, a police officer is sensely killed over a $400 forged check. Officer Cortez responded to a forged check call like I do every other week or so. When the officer tried to arrest the man, his girlfriend caused a distraction allowing the man to pull out a gun and shoot Officer Cortez in the face. He was 23, married, and had 2 young sons. He loved his job and sacrificed is life to try and keep the streets of the city a bit safer. The man and his girlfried will both be charged with 1st degree murder and will likely face the death penalty if convicted. That's a small consolation to the family and friends of Officer George Cortez.


At August 01, 2007 4:30 AM, Blogger Loving Annie said...

Rest in Peace, Officer Cortez.
Very sad.
And so totally senseless.
That picture of him with his little kids is heartbreaking...

At August 01, 2007 4:37 AM, Blogger Scott said...

That is so sad about Officer Cortez!

As for the helicopter crash, that was a tragedy. BUT what is your opinion on charging the criminal with "negligent hommicide" in those 4 men's deaths? I think that would set a bad precedent. He should be charged with all the crimes he did commit, including endangering all the civilians and police as he sped through the city. But the only thing that caused that crash was inattentive piloting. The criminal had nothing to do with that, and he shouldn't be charged for it!

At August 01, 2007 12:11 PM, Anonymous Kristen said...

I can't believe the audacity that man and his girlfriend had to do this. What the hell is this world coming to. I saw their picture in The Arizona Republic and was blinded by rage. I can't imagine what you and your fellow officers in the dept. are going through, I give you all my best.

Do you know what bank is accepting donations for his family?

At August 02, 2007 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At August 02, 2007 5:16 PM, Blogger 5150Wife said...

What a gut-wrenching post!

My heart goes out to Officer Cortez's family. How terribly sad. A too-close-to-home reminder that a 'routine call' can turn lethal in a heartbeat...literally.

As for the helicopter crash, that is such a sad tragedy as well. I watched the news footage live and had goosebumps, particularly when another pilot on the scene told of how he heard screams over the radio once the crash initially happened...screams until the two copters hit the ground, then silence. Chilling.

Be safe, Officer Gary.


At August 07, 2007 8:20 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

I thought about you when I saw the chopper crash on CNN or something.
Damn foolish news people.

I think public stoning should be a punishment. It might not bring officer Cortez back, but it would make a lot of people feel better if they could put some pain on the bastards who did it.

At August 15, 2007 11:35 AM, Blogger Dirk_Star said...

So terribly senseless...

People are just insane anymore...

At October 11, 2007 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its sad that some of you would come to the conclusion that it was "inattentive piloting,' the report hasnt even came out. So many families lost loved one on this horrible day in Phoenix. Dont make the mourning even harder. If that guy wasnt running from the law, our news reporters wouldnt have been in air reporting the story, his stupidity caused that accident.


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