SCOTTSBLUFF — Law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders escorted the family of a Nebraska State Patrol trooper through Scottsbluff Thursday.
The Nebraska State Patrol identified Trooper Jerry Smith, 51, of Scottsbluff, as the trooper killed in a collision near Bridgeport Thursday morning.
At approximately 7:45 a.m, Smith was on duty and traveling on Highway 26, in Morrill County, when another vehicle crossed the center line and struck his patrol unit head-on. Smith was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle was ejected and was also pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of a third vehicle that was involved in the crash was not seriously injured.
The site of the collision was in front of the Oregon Trail Cemetery, two miles west of Bridgeport.
The crash remains under investigation by the Morrill County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is a tragic day for the Nebraska State Patrol.," said Colonel John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol in statements released to the media. “A family has lost a husband and a father. Our troopers have lost a colleague and a friend. Our state has lost a true public servant.”
Bolduc was among the troopers at Dugan Kramer Funeral Chapel, where an escort that traveled on Highway 26 through Scottsbluff ended. The Star-Herald will update this report with photos from the escort and video from Bolduc speaking to officers.
To honor the trooper’s service, NSP troopers and Scotts Bluff County Sherriff personnel drove into Scottsbluff to honor the trooper’s family as they left Dugan-Kramer Funeral Chapel. As the procession made its way down Highway 26, they were greeted at the intersection by members of the Scottsbluff Police and Fire departments. The fire department raised an American flag over the intersection and saluted troopers as they passed.
“I think this is very important,” Scottsbluff Fire Capt. Justin Houston said. “We are all a very tight-knit family, so we want to come out and show our support for all of them through this. I know this is a hard time for them.”
In a social media post, the patrol said: “We are heartbroken to announce that a Nebraska State Trooper was killed in a traffic accident this morning while on duty in Morrill County."
Smith joined the Nebraska State Patrol in 2014, graduating with the 56th Basic Recruit Class on May 1, 2015. Graduating at the age of 47, he is believed to be the oldest recruit to ever complete NSP’s Basic Recruit Camp. He was stationed in Scottsbluff as part of Troop E for his entire NSP career.
Prior to joining NSP, he led a decorated career in the United States Army, serving our country from 1986 to 2011. Trooper Smith earned numerous honors during his military career, including a bronze star for his service in two tours of combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Trooper Smith was doing what he did every day, diligently patrolling Nebraska’s roadways,” Bolduc said. “This is a sad reminder of the dangers our law enforcement professionals face daily. Our prayers are with Trooper Smith’s family.”
Smith is survived by his wife and two adult children.