La. state trooper dies of injuries, marking first LSP line of duty death since 2015
HAMMOND (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police (LSP) Trooper George Baker, 33, died Sunday, May 24, surrounded by a vigil of family, friends, and fellow troopers, his colleagues said.
Baker’s death marks the first LSP line of duty death since 2015.
He is the 30th trooper to die in the line of duty in LSP’s history.
Baker was injured Wednesday, May 20, while assisting in a police chase through Hammond, La., near Wardline Road west of I-55.
Baker and another trooper successfully placed a tire deflation device in the road to stop the fleeing vehicle.
A Hammond Police Department unit involved in the chase hit the troopers as they attempted to retrieve the device from the road, officials said.
Both injured troopers were treated at North Oaks Medical Center. The other trooper was released with minor injuries later the same day.
Nathan Anding, 18, of Holden, and Taylor Cox, 26, of Hammond, were arrested in connection with the chase.
LSP officials said Baker was a ten-year law enforcement and military veteran.
His colleagues said becoming an LSP trooper was a “lifelong desire” of his.
He spent 8 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, including one combat deployment in the Middle East, as preparation, LSP officials said in the announcement of his death.
Bakers experience also included four years with the Greensburg Police Department - his first law enforcement job - and three years serving with the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office.
He began service with LSP’s Troop L in November of 2017, officials said.
In a statement to troopers, State Police Superintendent Colonel Kevin Reeves said, “Trooper Baker passed today leaving our hearts heavy but full of pride as he exemplified our values of duty, selfless service, and personal courage.”
Governor John Bel Edwards also released a statement.
"My heart is heavy at the passing of Trooper Baker, who served the people of our state with honor and dedication and died from injuries sustained in the line of duty. His selfless commitment to his fellow Louisianans represents the best of us and he continues to serve even after his passing by having his organs donated to help others in need. His courage and bravery will never be forgotten,“ said Edwards. "Please join Donna and me in praying for Trooper Baker, his wife Heather, daughter Harper, family, friends, and countless others as they mourn this great loss. Our thoughts are also with all members of Louisiana State Police, who have lost a true teammate and brother today.”
In addition to his wife Heather and their young daughter Harper, Baker is survived by his parents, his sisters, and his extended family, officials said.
Donations are being accepted at www.latroopers.org and through direct donations to the Louisiana Troopers Charities – Trooper Baker.
LSP officials commended Baker for registering as an organ donor before his death.
“Even after his death, Trooper Baker continues to show his commitment to community and selfless service by donating his organs so that others may live,” officials said.
Baker will be buried at a later date and afforded full honors earned with a line of duty death.
The last LSP line of duty death was August 24, 2015.
Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, 44, of LSP’s Troop D, died after being shot in the head during a traffic stop in Calcasieu Parish on August 23, 2015.
A jury recommended Vincent’s killer face the death penalty in July of 2019.
Baker’s death is the first line of duty death for LSP’s Troop L since the death of Trooper Rudolph H. Miller on Sept. 8, 1962.
Miller was killed after being hit by a vehicle on U.S. 51 in Tangipahoa Parish.
Prior to Baker’s death his colleague, Tpr. Michael Bennett, of LSP’s Troop C, penned a letter asking for prayers for troopers as they serve their communities.
You see us out there. Driving on your commute to work, school, home, or church. You see our patrol units. Immaculate white. Clean. Red reflective letters. Dark blue boot on the door.
You know what is inside that car. A man or woman clad in dark blue, trimmed in gold piping. Gold boot badge and gold buckle. Mirror-shined boots. Blue Smokey hat. A Louisiana State Trooper.
You see us on the side of the road. Writing tickets during traffic enforcement. Investigating a traffic crash. Sometimes arresting a poor soul who made a bad choice and decided to drive after having too much to drink.
You don’t see how difficult it is to get this job. The hiring process. The multiple interviews. The long waits for a phone call to see if you get a chance to be one of the best.
You don’t see the jumping up and down in excitement when you finally get the call and receive the offer of employment. The sense of awe you feel when you finally realize you’re getting a chance to wear the blue and gold.
You don’t see the training academy. Six months of physical and mental endurance. Tens of thousands of push ups. Hundreds of miles of running and swimming. The unbelievable soreness. The sleepless nights. Thousands of hours of lectures and study. Range time. Driver training. Officer survival. Being away from our family for all but 2 nights a week...often to spend those nights at home studying for an exam when we return.
You don’t see the sense of pride on graduation day. The way our chest swells and most eyes mist when our loved one pins that badge on our uniform for the first time. You don’t hear the thunder from our boots marching as we sing “Hail, State Police” in cadence. You don’t see the feeling of accomplishment for graduating and the weight of responsibility that was just placed on your shoulders.
There is so much more that you don’t see. We are husbands and wives, brother and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. We chose a different path in life than most and we are both loved and hated for it. I, for one, understand that. The badge we wear does not make us any stronger. It serves to hold us to a higher standard. We took this job to help people and we take it very seriously.
Now, as I write this, one of us is down. Critically injured while assisting another agency. Regardless of fault, one of us lies in God’s hands. A husband, father, brother, and son. A former United States Marine who chose to continue to serve the public. It could have been any one of us. We have all been in a similar situation that could have caused such a traumatic outcome.
We all knew the risks when we took this profession. When we raised our right hand and took our oath. That being said, none of that makes this any easier.
Please, pray. Pray for the family. The doctors. The medical staff. Pray for everyone that has to try to put this in the back of their mind and suit up today for their tour of duty.
Buckle up and drive safe, everyone.
To my fellow Troopers, Godspeed and be safe out there.
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