Hero Down: Kemah Police Chief Chris Reed Dies After Falling From Boat
Galveston, TX – Kemah Police Chief Chris Reed’s body was recovered on Sunday morning, nearly two days after he fell from a boat during a fishing trip in Galveston Bay.
Chief Reed and his wife were recreating in a 24-foot fishing vessel on June 7, when another boat passed by them just before 4 p.m., Texas Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Munoz said at the time, according to NBC News.
"From the initial report it sounds like they caught a wake from a vessel passing through the area and they became off balance and [he] fell overboard," Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Caren Damon explained during a press conference.
Chief Reed’s wife notified police, and said that her husband was not wearing a life vest when he fell overboard.
She was uninjured during the incident.
Approximately 40 vessels, a team of drones, and an air crew swarmed the area to search for Chief Reed, CNN reported.
They combed over 650 square nautical miles during the 40-hour search that ensued.
Chief Reed’s body was found in the Houston Ship Channel at approximately 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, approximately an eighth of a mile away from where the incident occurred, Munoz told NBC News.
Foul play is not suspected, investigators said.
"Many times, due to the weather conditions and the myriad of boats operating in the area, waves tend to compound onto each other, and you'll get a wave that is slightly higher than the others, and that could cause something like this," Coast Guard Lieutenant Jessica Wissman told NBC News.
Texas City Police Chief Jo Stanton said that the 50-year-old retired Army paratrooper was “a great cop” who worked for a number of different local agencies during his career, CNN reported.
"He was a big part of Kemah and everything they were accomplishing and going over there," Chief Stanton told reporters, according to NBC News. "He was a big part of this Galveston County community as far as law enforcement. We’re a tightknit group. He’s one of ours.”
He served as the city’s police chief since 2016, according to the Clear Lake Patch.
Chief Reed, who was also a member of the Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD) board, also had a special place in his heart for the children of his community.
He was a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, and donated any proceeds he received from his matches to causes benefiting kids, KTRK reported.
The police chief also worked as a wrestling coach, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“When I think of Chris Reed, I just think that’s a guy that does everything for the right reasons,” W4R Training Center Wrestling Director Mike Moor told the paper. “He’s the definition of an All-American bad-ss.”
"What we need to do is be able to celebrate Chris' life and help his family as much as we possibly can," CCISD superintendent Greg Smith said, according to KTRK. "We have to hang together, we have to pray together, lock arms together, because that's what Chris would want."
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said that Chief Reed was a fantastic friend and colleague.
“The community at large, the law enforcement community lost a good leader,” Sheriff Trochesset added.
In 1993, while working as a League City police officer, Chief Reed was shot in the line of duty.
His bullet-resistant vest saved his life, and he was subsequently awarded the Law Enforcement Purple Heart, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Chief Reed’s family released a statement on Saturday, thanking the community for their help and support.
"Chris Reed is a friend to everyone, a husband, brother, a son, a mentor, a protector, chief and a coach, but within each of those roles, Chris is always a connector," the statement read, according to USA Today. "He connects people to create synergy and a greater good."
In addition to his wife, Jana, Chief Reed leaves behind his three children, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A community memorial to honor Chief Reed’s lifetime of service will be held on Friday, the Kemah Police Department said in a Facebook post.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kemah Police Chief Chris Reed, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.