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KCSO officer killed in Hwy. 97 traffic accident

Big loss to sheriff's department

An off-duty member of the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office lost his life in a traffic accident on Highway 97 on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 18.

Sgt. Peter D. Garland, 38, was killed when the car he was driving was hit head-on by another vehicle.

"It's a loss of unimaginable size to us," said Sheriff Rick McComas, who first met Garland in 1992, the year Garland started working for the Sheriff's Office.

The accident happened in Yakima County, about 19 miles south of Toppenish.

According to the report from the Washington State Patrol, Garland was headed north toward Yakima driving his personal vehicle, a 1993 Nissan. A 2007 Audi S4 driven by Sean Kearney, 20, of Carnation attempted to pass another vehicle in a "no passing" zone in front of Sgt. Garland.

Garland swerved onto the shoulder to avoid Kearney's vehicle, but Kearney also went onto the shoulder and the cars collided.

Kearney and two passengers in his vehicle were injured; all three were taken to Yakima Memorial Hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Garland had served with the KCSO for 15 years. He supervised patrol operations, led the DARE Program for several years, and served as coordinator of the county's Search & Rescue unit.

Garland, a Goldendale resident, leaves behind a wife and two children.

"On behalf of the Klickitat County Sheriff Office, we would like everyone to know how saddened we are at the loss of one of our family," said McComas. "Sgt. Peter Garland was taken from us as a result of a senseless and careless act. We hope the public will understand and direct their thoughts and prayers to Peter's family, as we are."

Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Bruce Brending, who learned of the accident not long before the start of last Wednesday's White Salmon City Council meeting, advised the councilors and members of the public in attendance about the tragedy.

"I was just informed that the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office has suffered a death," said an emotional Brending. "Sgt. Garland was hit head on on Highway 97, and did not make it from the scene."

Brending, who usually sits in on the council sessions, asked to be excused from the meeting.

Mayor Francis Gaddis offered condolences to Garland's family and to the KCSO on behalf of the city of White Salmon.

"Sgt. Garland was an asset to Klickitat County law enforcement," Gaddis wrote in a letter to Sheriff McComas dated July 20. "His dedication to public service and his community was unparalleled. Please accept our expression of sorrow as we too mourn the Garland family's and your loss."

McComas acknowledged the expressions of grief from so many people.

"We would like to extend our appreciation to all those throughout our county and to the hundreds of law enforcement agencies throughout the Northwest who have offered their support," McComas said.

Funeral services, open to the public, were scheduled for Tuesday, July 25, at Goldendale High School. A luncheon was scheduled to follow at the Community Grace Brethren Church, adjacent to the school.

"Our citizens should know that even in this time of loss we will remain vigilant and responsive, as we have been charged with doing," McComas added. "Peter would want us to keep moving forward, and that's what we intend to do."


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