The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department announced earlier today that a sheriff's deputy and a community service officer were killed in a collision while in route to a burglary call in Modesto.
The deceased were identified as Deputy Jason Garner and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson. Garner had been with the sheriff’s department for nine years and six months, while Johnson had put in 15 years and five months at the department, with the last eight years as a Community Service Officer. She had recently been promoted to a lead training CSO and had transferred from Patterson, according to the sheriff’s department.
Garner is survived by his wife and four children. Johnson is survived by her mother and father and three children.
“Our condolences go out the families,” said Undersheriff Ralph Ghimenti. “Jason was a well-liked deputy and Raschel was a CSO that would go the extra mile.”
The collision happened just after 8 a.m. Saturday near an intersection at Crows Landing Road and Seventh Street. The California Highway Patrol, which is handling the investigation, said it was a single vehicle collision.
The pair were responding to a report of a burglary that had already occurred when the patrol car crashed into some property at Modesto Auto Wreckers. The patrol car was quickly engulfed in flames. Both the deputy and the CSO were pronounced deceased at the scene.
Ghimenti said a neighboring business had surveillance footage showing the patrol car traveling at a high rate of speed just prior to the accident. He said it was not known at this time why the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed because they were not responding to an in-progress call.
The investigation into the collision is being handled by the California Highway Patrol’s central division Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team.
CHP Capt. Julian Irigoyen said it was still early in the investigation and that a complete analysis of the event could take some time.
Crows Landing Road remained closed to traffic as of Saturday afternoon.
Stanislaus County Adam Christianson was attending the National Peace Officer’s Memorial in Washington D.C. when he heard the news about the loss of two sheriff’s department employees. Christianson was at the memorial to honor Deputy Dennis Wallace, who was fatally shot exactly six months prior on Nov. 13, 2016. Ghimenti said that Christianson was on a flight back to Stanislaus County to help the department through this latest tragedy.
The sheriff’s department stated on their Facebook page: “Our hearts are broken and we pray for Deputy Garner's family, Community Service Officer Johnson's family, and all the members of our department who are dealing with another tragic loss.”