Helicopter crash kills 5 cops


On October 24, 1988, police officers from a drug interdiction task force were conducting patrol in southeastern California in a helicopter being operated by National Guard members. The officers were assigned to Operation Border Ranger. The mission of the operation was to interdict narcotics coming in from Mexico. There were 5 officers from different agencies and 3 National Guard crew members.

At around 9:30 at night the officers saw a suspicious vehicle in the desert. The National Guard pilot, who was wearing night vision goggles, swooped down to take a closer look. As the helicopter descended it struck a power line, causing a devastating crash. There were no survivors. Investigator Michael Davis of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Roy Chester of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy James McSweeney of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sergeant Richard Romero of the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department, and Deputy Mark Tonkin of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, were all killed. Chief Warrant Officer Geoffrey L. Nett, 2nd Lt. Eric J. Smeltzer, and Sgt. Ramon M. Espinoza from the California National Guard were also killed. We remember their sacrifice.

Investigator Michael Davis had a son who went on to become a detective in the Placer County Sheriff’s Department. Michael Davis Jr., was shot and killed in the line of duty on October 24th, 2014, while attempting to apprehend a perp who had just killed another cop. Their line of duty deaths occurred exactly 26 years apart to the day.


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