You gave your all to protect and serve us, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Deputy Sheriff Cruz Thomas, 26
Franklin County Georgia Sheriff’s Office
May 21, 2014 – Deputy Cruz Thomas was killed in a vehicle crash while attempting to overtake a speeding vehicle. As he approached a tractor trailer, the truck pulled into his lane, causing Deputy Thomas’ patrol car to leave the roadway where he struck several trees. He died at the scene.
Deputy Thomas’ father serves as sheriff of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Correctional Officer Chad Charles, 43
Michigan Department of Corrections
May 21, 2014 – Correctional Officer Chad Charles suffered a fatal heart attack during a training exercise with the agency’s Emergency Response Team.
Officer Mark H. Larson, 50
Jacksonville Florida Sheriff’s Office
March 24, 2014 – Officer Mark Larson succumbed to serious injuries received in 1993, when he was intentionally dragged by a vehicle subsequent to a traffic stop. The suspect had attempted to force a woman into the woods and when Officer Larson stopped the suspect’s vehicle the man grabbed his arm and drove off, dragging the officer with him. The suspect unsuccessfully attempted to sideswipe the officer into oncoming traffic. However, he rammed Officer Larson against a section of guardrail, breaking both of his legs and nearly severing one arm.
Remarkably, Officer Larson was able to hang on with one hand. Using the other he drew his weapon and fired four shots into the suspect’s body. The officer was then thrown into a roadside ditch.
The suspect crashed into a tree, but died from gunshot wounds.
Officer Larson was transported to the hospital where his arm was amputated and his badly damaged legs were repaired. The surgery lasted 27 hours.
Mark Larson fought a difficult and courageous battle to survive, enduring painful rehabilitation, suffering aplastic anemia—his body no longer produced enough red and white blood cells, and the platelets needed to clot blood—receiving hundreds of blood transfusions, and a bout of meningitis that left him deaf and confined to a wheelchair.
Sadly, Officer Larson finally lost the fight and succumbed to his injuries. He is survived by his wife, Erica.
*It’s always tough to post the Friday’s Heroes article. To lose an officer is devastating to anyone who’s ever worn a badge. To put these words into print each and every week is a kick in the gut.
The events that lead to the deaths of these brave officers are all horrifying and tragic. But Officer Mark Larson’s story and his battle with injuries and other demons is, well, it’s nothing short of incredible, and heartbreaking.
Rest in peace, guys. Your law enforcement brothers and sisters will take it from here.