Updated: Michigan State Trooper Killed Following Rollover Crash
April 06, 2011
DETROIT, MI – A Michigan State Police trooper who spent part of his career patrolling in Detroit was killed early today in a single-car crash near Birch Run.
Jeffrey Werda, 43, who left the Detroit post four years ago to work out of the Bridgeport post in the Saginaw area, was killed when his patrol car rolled just west of Birch Run at about 1:30 a.m., according to investigators.
Werda, who had been with the agency for 10 years, was one of about 100 Michigan officers who helped in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
“He’s an awesome trooper, good man, good father, hard worker,” Detroit post Sgt. James Grady, Werda’s partner for a year in 2005, said this morning. “Definitely a positive to the citizens in the State of Michigan.”
The husband and father lived in the Gladwin area, MSP 1st Lt. Patrick McGreevy said today from the Bridgeport post.
“This is obviously a very tragic day, for not only the Bridgeport post and for the State Police, but the state of Michigan as well when we lose one of our troopers,” McGreevy said. “I would just ask the citizens to keep Trooper Werda’s family in their prayers. It’s a very, very tough day here.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered the U.S. flags on all state buildings and within the State Capitol Complex to be lowered immediately in Werda’s honor. Flags should be returned to full-staff following the date of internment. Funeral service arrangement information is not yet available.
“The entire state of Michigan mourns the death of Trooper Jeffrey Werda who lost his life this morning while in the line of duty,” Snyder said. “As a 10-year veteran of the Michigan State Police, Trooper Werda worked tirelessly to protect the people of our state and put his life at risk day after day to protect our communities. I extend my heartfelt condolences to Trooper Werda’s wife, his three children and his entire family.”
Deputies from the Saginaw Counties Sheriff’s Office had tried to pull over a motorist for an equipment violation, and a pursuit ensued in southwest Saginaw County, McGreevy said. Werda, on patrol in Birch Run Village, put on his lights and sirens and told dispatchers he was heading to assist, westbound on Birch Run Road.
Within minutes, a passing motorist called 911 to report finding Werda’s patrol car, which had rolled several times, off the side of Birch Run Road in Taymouth Township in Saginaw County, a half-mile west of Morrish Road and west of I-75, McGreevy said.
Werda had been thrown from the patrol car.
He was taken to Covenant HealthCare hospital in Saginaw, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, McGreevy said.
State Police crash reconstructionists are still trying to determine what caused the crash and whether Werda was wearing a seat belt, McGreevy said. Road conditions were dry, and no one saw the crash, he added.
“There are a lot of the investigative details we don’t have as far as the crash dynamics,” McGreevy said. “We will release that at the appropriate time.”
Werda was one of the Katrina volunteers who said that, as a thank-you for helping relief efforts, Baton Rouge officers offered to let him “beat down” a prisoner. The allegations led to a number of officers leaving the area after helping for a couple of days.
McGreevy, who also went to Louisiana but didn’t personally see situations of abuse, said he watched Werda work in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward as Katrina’s floodwaters subsided in September 2005.
“We were looking for bodies and taking care of people that needed to be taken care of,” McGreevy said. “It was really tough, gritty work. I remember Jeff just stepping up and doing a super job and doing just what a state trooper is expected to do."