February 28, 2010 (Santee) –Sheriff’s Deputy Ken Collier has died following a rollover accident that occurred while he was in pursuit of a wrong-way driver on westbound State Route 52 around 3:20 this morning. Dispatcher Ryan Debillis, who was riding along, was injured.
The driver, Jose Jasso Lopez, 23, will be charged with vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving, Sheriff Bill Gore announced at a press conference this morning.
The Deputy had turned around and was attempting to overtake the driver when his Ford Expedition SUV went into the center media and rolled down into a ravine near a bridge between Mast Boulevard and Santo Road. Santee Deputies located the patrol vehicle, which was on fire. Deputy Collier radioed dispatch and the dispatcher also called for help.
Santee Sheriff deputies were initially unable to locate Collier so they broadcast 11-99 (officer down) before finally located Colllier. Both Collier and Debillis were responsive but suffered significant injuries. Paramedics took Debillis to UCSD Hospital, where he is responsive and in stable condition, according to the Sheriff’s office. Deputy Collier was taken by air ambulance to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where doctors continued CPR and other advanced life saving measures, but he succumbed to his injuries at 5:30 a.m.
Collier was assigned to the marshall’s office for a few years before moving to the sheriff’s office during the merger in 2000. His last assignment was at the Santee Sheriff’s Station.