Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Officer down in Ontario...in 1951 (Bernard Green)

There is a website called the Officer Down Memorial Page that lists brief biographies of police officers killed in the line of duty. For Ontario, California, the site lists four such officers. None of the deaths are recent - the most recent entry is for 1975.

The oldest entry is for 1951 - and it was clearly a different time.

Officer Bernard Green was on duty on June 15, 1951 when a man was fleeing other police. The man was accused of assaulting his wife and, in the words of ODMP, "attempting to run over a constable." Officer Green was asked to help out, and he did so by setting up "a roadblock on the road leading into Ontario."

Obviously it was a different time. Today, there are dozens if not hundreds of roads that lead into Ontario.

Sadly, the suspect was not affected by Officer Green's roadblock - while driving at 90 miles per hour, the suspect hit Officer Green's police cruiser, killing Green.

The city of Ontario website provides additional information on the loss of Officer Green, noting that it was San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies who were pursuing the suspect, that the suspect was traveling from Fontana to Ontario on Highway 99 - now known as Holt Boulevard - and that Officer Green's roadblock was at the intersection of Holt Boulevard and Bon View.

The city's page further notes that the impact of the suspect's car on Officer Green's cruiser caused the cruiser's gas tank to explode.

Officer Green was thrown from the car, but the heat and flames were too intense to reach him for several minutes. He later died at San Antonio Community Hospital.

The California Peace Officers' Memorial Foundation notes that the initial chase started a day earlier, in Yermo. Of course, in those days we didn't have TV news copters in the air following every police chase. Back then, Stan Chambers stayed on the ground to cover the Kathy Fiscus well tragedy.

There is one common thread among all of the officer memorial pages - none of them named the suspect who killed Green. They probably didn't want to give him any fame.

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