MODESTO (CBS13) — The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of two officers, who were killed in a car crash Saturday morning.
The two officers are Deputy Jason Garner, 41, a nine year veteran with the force, and Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson, 42, who was with the county for more than 15 years.
The Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released many details as this is an on-going investigation, but surveillance footage from nearby businesses shows a patrol vehicle speeding down Crows Landing near Seventh Street in Modesto.
“It’s sad to see what happened to these two cops,” said Bill Envia, who owns Affordable Auto Finance, which is located just down the street from the scene. His security cameras captured the moments before the crash.
According to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, just after 8 a.m, Deputy Garner and Officer Johnson were responding to a burglary call.
Investigators comb through the wreckage late Saturday afternoon, but the video suggests the two may have been speeding before losing control of their car. Their SUV crossed the lane of traffic, hit a wall at Modesto Auto Wreckers, and then perhaps may have gotten airborne and spun, before landing on top of a dumpster. Fire crews had to use a ladder to reach the vehicle.
“I have seen the video. I hope the CHP investigation will provide answers as to why, but I will not speculate at this time, as it would inappropriate for me to do so,” said Undersheriff Ralph Ghimenti, with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, at a Saturday news conference.
Patrick Singh’s camera caught the vehicle’s approach from another angle. His video shows an SUV traveling at a high rate of speed as it crossed the lane of traffic, and creating a cloud of dust.
“I don’t know how the vehicle got up there. I don’t know. But we were shocked,” said Singh, who owns Star Auto Sales, which is located directly across from the crash site.
The SUV burst into flames upon impact. The two officers were pronounced dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, a procession of Stanislaus County law enforcement and fire agencies provided an escort for the officers as their bodies were removed from the scene early Saturday afternoon. And back the Sheriff’s Department headquarters, people came by to drop of flowers and balloons as a way to pay their final respects.
“We ask you to honor them, and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers,” said Ghimenti.
Deputy Garner is survived by his wife and four children. Officer Johnson leaves behind three children.
The CHP say their investigation may take up to several months to complete.