Iowa Police Officer Dies after Suffering Severe Injuries in 2011 Crash

Nov. 4, 2023
Des Moines Senior Police Officer Phoukham Tran had been directing traffic at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 19, 2011, when he was struck by a drunken driver in a 3-ton pickup truck.

An Iowa police officer who was seriously injured by a drunken driver when he was directing traffic in 2011 died this week.

Des Moines Senior Police Officer Phoukham Tran had been directing traffic at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 19, 2011, when he was struck by a 3-ton pickup truck, the Des Moines Register reports. Tran was thrown nearly 50 feet, and he suffered a punctured lung and severe head injuries.

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When Tran underwent surgery, his heart stopped for 12 minutes. He spent months in the hospital and rehab centers, learning how to walk, talk and do other routine tasks again. He was able to return home in 2012 but was forced to medically retire from the department.

"SPO Tran was a highly-respected police officer and member of the Des Moines Police Department family, and will forever be remembered for his selfless service to the community," the department said in a statement posted online.

Tran, who came to the United States from Vietnam in 1980, had been with the police department 30 years before retiring. Joining the force in 1982, he spent nearly 20 years as a cadet before becoming a full-time officer in 2000.

The driver who struck Tran was convicted of operating while intoxicated and serious injury by motor vehicle. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and paroled in 2013.

About the Author

Joe Vince

Joining Endeavor Business Media in 2018, Joe has worked on the company's city services publications. He began working at OFFICER.com as the assistant editor. Before starting at Endeavor, Joe had worked for a variety of print and online news outlets, including the Indianapolis Star, the South Bend Tribune, Reddit and Patch.com.

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