RIVERSIDE, Mo. --
Riverside officials announced Friday that a police officer hit by lightning while helping out in Joplin has died from his injuries.
Police Officer Jeff Taylor, 31, died in Springfield Friday. He was struck by lightning on May 23, while on tornado disaster response duty.
"Jeff Taylor volunteered to assist with the Joplin disaster recovery,” said Greg Mills, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety for the City of Riverside, Mo. in a news release “He was a highly dedicated officer and a devoted public servant, and we will always remember his sacrifice.”
Riverside said Taylor was the first officer in the history of Riverside Police Department to die in the line of duty, and the first emergency disaster responder to pass away as a result of the May 22 Joplin tornado.
Taylor was part of Riverside’s 12-member contingent of police officers, firefighters and public works staff members who responded to the Joplin tornado disaster. On the evening after the tornado, as a new line of storms moved through the Joplin area, Taylor had just returned to a command post when lightning struck the ground near where he was working.
"We are heartbroken," Mills said. "Our department, our community and law enforcement as a whole have lost a dedicated professional doing what he did best -- helping those who were in need. The fragility of life gives way to the enduring spirit Jeff showed to us all. Our department will never be the same."
Taylor had been with the Riverside Police Department since 2005 and held the rank of Master Patrolman at the time of his death.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
Cards and messages are welcome:
City of Riverside Police Department
2990 NW Vivion Road
Riverside, MO 64150.
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