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Officer Struck By MO Tornado's Lightening Dies

Officer Struck By MO Tornado's Lightening Dies

Kansas City Star via YellowBrix

June 03, 2011

RIVERSIDE, MO – The Riverside police officer struck by lightning while helping with the Joplin tornado died this morning at a Springfield hospital.

Jefferson “Jeff” Taylor, who volunteered to go to Joplin, was 31 years old. He is the first Riverside officer ever to die in the line of duty.

“We are heartbroken,” Riverside Police Chief Greg Mills said today in a statement. “Our department, our community and law enforcement as a whole have lost a dedicated professional doing what he did best — helping those who were in need. The fragility of life gives way to the enduring spirit Jeff showed to us all. Our department will never be the same.”

Taylor was one of a dozen emergency responders from Riverside to rush to Joplin after the tornado hit May 22.

The following day, as thunderstorms moved through the area, lighting struck the ground near where he was working.

Public safety officers performed CPR and stabilized him at the scene. Taylor later underwent successful skin graft surgery and was being treated for other complications when he died at 9:25 a.m. at St. John’s Hospital.

Family members were at his side.

Riverside police officials say Taylor joined the department in 2005 and held the rank of master patrolman. He was the department’s Officer of the Year in 2008.

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