LEO – Deputy Wyatt Maser, ID – May 18, 2020

Deputy Wyatt Maser, 23, of the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho, disastrously was knocked down and killed by one of his own colleagues who was en route to assist him at an incident scene.

Deputy Wyatt Maser

According to the Sheriff’s Office, “Deputy Wyatt Maser… was on patrol in the early morning hours of Monday, May 18th, 2020, when he responded to assist another Deputy on the Bone Road [east of Idaho Falls].   While [these two deputies were] attempting to take a female adult wielding a machete into custody, Sgt. Randy Flegel who was responding to the area to assist came upon the three in the roadway and struck Deputy Maser with his vehicle.”

Scene of the initial incident at the intersection of Bone Road and Lincoln Road.

One media report stated that the fatality is under investigation by the Idaho State Police. Clearly, the outcome of that investigation will be the sole arbiter of any actual blame in this case.

Deputy Maser started with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in April, 2019.

He was a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving as a senior airman from August 2015 to April 2018. According to Deputy Maser’s obituary, he was raised in Casper, WY.

He married Paige Michelle Maser (Shaw) in Idaho Falls on Oct. 13, 2018. The couple had a daughter Morgan on Aug. 1, 2019, the same month Deputy Maser graduated from the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training academy.

Road Safety USA Comment

Whether I like it or not — as a retired traffic patrol police officer myself — there is seemingly a very strong likelihood that this fatal incident should simply never have happened.

The circumstances, as reported in the Sheriff’s Office press release and the media, suggest some combination of excessive speed, inadequate planning, and/or “red mist” on behalf of the officer who hit and killed the young, inexperienced deputy. Clearly, however, this might not have been the case if, for example, the deputy for some reason ran out directly in front to the approaching patrol car.

It is very possible, though, that the incident reflects on the sad fact that law enforcement driver training in the USA may professionally be seen as inadequate-for-purpose. This is because it is typically only carried out on closed circuits or other private ground where only vehicle dynamics can truly be taught, without all of the many other things that need to be taught for people whose job and duty requires high speed driving.

This, regrettably, is yet another aspect of driving / driver training / traffic safety in which the USA lacks badly behind the leading nations. One only needs to look at the number of law enforcement driving fatalities that involve an officer in his or her own patrol car — no other vehicles — to see the sad truth in this.

I cannot escape the fact that speaking out like this has made me unpopular in certain quarters over the years, but the aggression and unpleasantness I have been met with is sadly a clear-cut case of “shooting the messenger!” Somebody needs to be speaking out about the many genuine failings of road safety in the USA. I am not happy that the job, by fate, has fallen to me, but with due respect to all, this does not mean I won’t do it.

Are YOU, as an individual, even aware that if the USA were to match the best — meaning lowest — road death rates among all of the other developed nations in the world, over 25,000 American lives would be saved every single year? And this tragic failure, in such a great nation, is acceptable because what? [Eddie Wren].

One person — a Ben Hendricks — who posted what became an “Editor’s Pick” response to the relevant East Idaho News article, wrote:

Along with many others, I offer my condolences to the families involved, including the Bonneville Sheriffs family. However, I note that Sgt. Randy Flegel was a member of the Crisis Intervention Team and its top deputy in 2019. Considering his specialized training, Flegel should have went into that situation with a greater sense of calm. Instead, he drove into a volatile situation (pumped up on Adrenalin) at a high rate of speed with little to no visibility. Something as unlikely as a deputy hitting another deputy with a patrol car should never had [sic] happened if care had been used. Unfortunately, police responses these days vary little from typical military responses with the focus being to bring overwhelming domestic force to an already volatile situation. Again, my sincere condolences to all involved. But the Sheriff’s department should waste no time evaluating the need for better training to ensure something like this never happens again. Thank you for your service, Wyatt.

SOURCES:

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