A La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy was killed in a vehicle accident Monday morning, while assisting multiple law enforcement agencies in pursuit of a fleeing suspect.
Sergeant Michael Rudd is the first La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy to die in the line of duty since the sheriff’s office was founded in 1983.
Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff at state buildings from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday in honor of Rudd.
Agencies involved in the pursuit included the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. According to Sheriff William Ponce, the pursuit began shortly after midnight in the Quartzsite area, where a suspect facing initial charges of fraud attempted to flee eastbound on I-10 from law enforcement. Ponce says Rudd was struck by a commercial vehicle during the pursuit.
Rudd was transported to Palo Verde Hospital in Blythe, California, where he ultimately died from his injuries. According to Ponce, the fleeing suspect was ultimately apprehended. As of Monday afternoon, sheriff’s officials were still determining charges to be brought against that suspect.
“I can’t confirm additional charges (in reference to Rudd’s death),” Ponce said. “But I feel like it should be done.”
Rudd has served with the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office since 2013, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant this March. He was married, with six children.
“It’s a tragic loss,” Ponce said. “It’s a huge heartbreak for this department. It’s devastating, and we’re trying to deal with it. This is a small community, and everyone is close here. We’re like a family. He was well-liked and respected by his peers.”
Ponce says his department is planning to create a donation platform to assist Rudd’s family after his loss.
“We’re asking for prayers and support for his family,” Ponce said. “They’re going through a hard time right now.”
The incident remains under investigation by the Department of Public Safety. Attempts by Parker Pioneer reporters to contact Public Safety officials for further information were unsuccessful as of Monday afternoon.