Hero Down: Modesto Police Sergeant Michael Pershall Killed By Drunk Driver

Modesto, CA - Modesto Police Sergeant Michael Pershall, age 38, was killed by a drunk driver on Tuesday, August 22. He was off-duty at the time.

The incident occurred about 6:10 PM in front of Savage Middle School, near Maid Mariane Lane and Merle Avenue, according to KCRA. Sergeant Pershall was riding his bicycle when he was hit from behind by a vehicle driven by Matthew Gibbs. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gibbs remained at the scene until police arrived. He was arrested and charged with DUI and murder-related charges, and remains in jail under no bond. He has a previous DUI conviction out of Siskiyou County, where he pleaded guilty in 2014 to driving with a blood-alcohol level of .20 percent or above. Gibbs served an active sentence of 7 days in jail.

A press release from the Modesto Police Department said:

"...On Tuesday evening, 38-year-old Michael Pershall was off-duty and riding his bicycle along Merle Avenue near Savage School, when he was hit by a suspected drunk driver. California Highway Patrol officers are investigating the fatal collision and arrested the driver, 32-year-old Matthew Gibbs of Modesto for homicide and several driving under the influence related charges.

Pershall was a 9 year veteran in law enforcement, serving 4 years in Tuolumne County as a sheriff deputy before joining the Modesto Police Department in 2012.

Pershall quickly proved he was a dedicated professional who cared about the community and youth. During his time with the Modesto Police Department Sergeant Pershall served as a Canine Handler, Field Training Officer, Police Explorer Advisor and negotiator for the Critical Incident Team.

As a Field Training Officer, Pershall was instrumental in training and mentoring new officers, teaching them the fundamentals of being a public servant and guardian to the community. Pershall also volunteered as an advisor for the Police Explorer Program, which is a mentoring and development program for youth between the ages of 15 and 21.

Pershall led by example and was a positive role model for the new and young members of the department.

As a canine handler, Pershall was actively engaged with the department’s community outreach and provided countless canine presentations and demonstrations to community groups, schools and youth organizations. His most recent outing with his canine partner “Ike” involved visiting several block parties at this year’s National Night Out.

Pershall was recently promoted to Police Sergeant on August 8th and was beginning his new chapter as a frontline supervisor and leader within the organization.

“Mike’s loss creates a tremendous void within our organization and within the hearts of those he touched” said Chief Galen Carroll. “We are forever grateful for the moments we shared with him”.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Modesto Police Sergeant Michael Pershall, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.

The only official place to donate to the fallen hero's family is on the page set up by the Modesto Police Officer;s Association HERE.

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