On Sept. 13, 2001, Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew T. Herzog died from injuries he suffered a day earlier when the car he and the deputy he was training were in was involved in a collision along Samish Way in Bellingham. The deputies were in pursuit of a suspect at the time of the accident.
Herzog was a five-year veteran for the sheriff's office and was survived by his wife, Amy, and parents.
Fortunately, it's been nearly 17 years since that tragic incident — the last time a Whatcom County law enforcement officer lost his life in the line of duty.
"I think we've been very fortunate," Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said. "I chalk that up to a high level of training and some very good folks. You never know when it's going to happen. We've had some very close calls, but fortunately we haven't had any in while."
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In all, there have been 12 officers who were killed while serving the citizens of Whatcom County, according to behindthebadgefoundation.org, an online memorial for officers who died in the line of duty in Washington State.
Tuesday is Peace Officers Memorial Day, and since 1962 when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as a time to remember fallen officers and their families, the week that May 15 has fallen in has been recognized as National Police Week.
With that in mind, here's a look at the 12 Whatcom County fallen heroes:
▪ Deputy James F. Chatfield (Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office): Died July 29, 1921 after he was shot while confronting two men suspected of smuggling liquor and narcotics on a trail crossing the Canadian border near Blaine.
▪ Officer Vernon G. Fortin (Washington State Patrol): Died Sept. 30, 1923, from injuries he suffered five days earlier when his motorcycle collided with another patrolman's motorcycle as they were heading to the Lynden fair for traffic duty.
▪ Officer Otto G. Brown (Bellingham Police Department): Died Jan. 8, 1930, from injuries he suffered weeks earlier when, on his way to work, his police motorcycle was struck by a taxi at the intersection of Lynn Street and Eldridge Avenue in Bellingham.
▪ Officer Charles M. Flachs (Immigration and Naturalization): Died May 28, 1936, after he was shot at the Pacific Highway Crossing in Blaine by a well-known bank robber from Canada.
▪ Special Agent Anthony Cozza (U.S. Customs Service): Died Feb. 24, 1945, from a heart attack he suffered while lifting excessive weight while assigned in Blaine.
▪ Officer Thomas J. Hanlin (Washington State Patrol): Died Feb. 26, 1945, succumbing to injuries he suffered five years earlier in an accident while responding to an incident on Mount Baker Highway near Deming.
▪ Assistant Chief Larry D. Duronso (Blaine Police Department): Died Sept. 4, 1978, when a plane he was flying in while searching for a murder victim in rural Whatcom County experienced engine trouble and crashed about four miles west of Lynden.
▪ Officer Douglas O. Krenz (Blaine Police Department): Died Sept. 4, 1978, when a plane he was piloting while searching for a murder victim in rural Whatcom County experienced engine trouble and crashed about four miles west of Lynden.
▪ Inspector Kenneth G. Ward (U.S. Customs Service): Died May 24, 1979, when he was shot by a California prison escapee attempting to return to the United States from Canada at the Lynden border crossing.
▪ Patrolman Jack G. Martin (Lynden Police Department): Died Aug. 9, 1988, when he suffered a fatal heart attack after being involved in a fight with a suspect.
▪ Agent Walter S. Panchison (U.S. Border Patrol): Died Oct. 23, 1998 when the airplane he was piloting crashed in a rugged area on Sumas Mountain. He was checking an embedded motion sensor that had been tripped in a canyon known for drug and alien smuggling.
▪ Deputy Matthew T. Herzog (Whatcom County Sherrif's Office): Died Sept. 13, 2001, from injuries he suffered when the car he was in while pursuing a suspect left the roadway and struck a tree near Samish Way in Bellingham.
Date of the deaths of Assistant Chief Larry D. Duronso and Officer Douglas O. Krenz corrected on May 16, 2018.