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Birdsell, Deputy Lee D.

End of Watch: 
Thursday, September 26, 1968
County: 
Garfield
Agency: 
Garfield County S.O.

On Thursday, September 26, 1968, Pomeroy Police Department Officer Eugene Jennings and Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Bud Birdsell sat at a service station in Pomeroy along Highway 410 (now US-12) looking for a stolen car. 

Earlier in the day in Clarkston, two teens appeared in court for car theft but escaped and stole another car.  They were reported to be heading west on Highway 410 towards Pomeroy.

Shortly after 2200 hours, Deputy Birdsell and Officer Jennings spotted the stolen car and attempted to stop it.  The suspect vehicle raced west on Highway 410 with Officer Jennings and Deputy Birdsell in pursuit.

About four miles west of Pomeroy, the suspect vehicle failed to negotiate a turn, left the roadway and drove up a rocky embankment.  As the vehicle headed through the ditch, it began to fall apart with the engine and transmission breaking loose and falling onto the highway below.  The two suspects were ejected and the vehicle fell on top of Officer Jennings’ car.  The suspects died at the scene. 

Deputy Birdsell’s car drove through the scene with visibility severely limited from the dust and debris.  His patrol car nicked the corner of the Pomeroy car and then struck the suspect vehicle’s engine which lay in the middle of the highway.  The engine shoved the left front tire under the driver’s seat, causing Deputy Birdsell’s head to whip back and strike the Plexiglas divider.  Deputy Birdsell’s skull was crushed and he died instantly.

Officer Jennings was transported to the hospital where he died on September 28, 1968.

On May 18, 2012, a road sign was unveiled at the sight of the crash reading “Please Drive Safely” and “In Memory of Deputy Lee Birdsell and Officer Eugene Jennings.”