Phoenix, AZ – Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford died in the line of duty on Thursday morning, after he was struck by a passing vehicle while investigating a car crash.
Officer Rutherford, 51, was dispatched to the initial collision near Indian School Road and 75th Avenue just before 8:30 a.m., KPNX reported.
Seventeen-year-old Alma Pineda, who was involved in the crash, said that Officer Rutherford gave her a hug when he arrived at the scene to console her.
He was very kind, she said.
As the 23-year department veteran was investigating the collision, a passing motorist slammed into him, KTVK reported.
The last word he said was “wife,” Pineda told KPNX.
Officer Rutherford was rushed to a local hospital in extremely critical condition, and was pronounced dead a short while later, according to KTVK.
The driver that crashed into the veteran officer remained at the scene, and the exact cause of the collision remains under investigation, KPNX reported.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones of Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford,” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tweeted. “Our prayers are with the @phoenixpolice family and the entire law enforcement community as we mourn this loss."
He leaves behind his wife and two adult sons, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference.
“This is just another example of the inherent dangers that our officers face each and every day, and yet, they put that blue uniform on and go out and serve our community,” Chief Williams continued. “This makes the 39th line of duty death that we’ve had in our agency.”
“We would ask that you all keep the Rutherford family, as well as our police department, in your thoughts and prayers,” the chief said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Phoenix Police Officer Paul Rutherford, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.