11 Washington law enforcement officers receive top honor

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The state's highest law enforcement honor was awarded Friday to 11 officers, including a trooper who was killed last year when his motorcycle collided with a truck as he was detouring traffic about a week after a section of the Skagit River bridge collapsed in the river.

Trooper Sean M. O'Connell Jr. was among six who were awarded the medal for posthumous service. O'Connell's medal was accepted by his wife and one of his children at a ceremony at the Washington state Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol campus.

Five other officers who died on duty between the years of 1919 and 1976 were also recognized Friday: Seattle Police Officer Edwin J. Wilson, who died Sept. 24, 1919 after his motorcycle went out of control and struck a telephone poll while he was returning to headquarters after handling a call; Seattle Police Officer Ellsworth Cordes, who died Dec. 31, 1932 after his police motorcycle collided with a street car; Seattle Police Officer John T. Clancy, Jr., who died Dec. 24, 1949 after his police motorcycle was struck by a drunk driver; Seattle Police Officer David P. Richards, who died Sept. 1, 1967 when his police motorcycle went out of control and struck a guard rail; and Seattle Police Officer Jerry L. Wyant, who died on Oct. 26, 1976 after his motorcycle was struck by a delivery truck.

As of April 14, 280 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in the state of Washington, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

One Washington state trooper was posthumously awarded the medal for serious injury. Trooper Michael Buckingham was pursuing a drunk driver who collided with another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction in April 1981. That vehicle then crashed into Buckingham's vehicle, leaving him trapped and unconscious and his vehicle engulfed in flames.

Another three received the medal of honor for meritorious conduct: Bellingham Police Sgt. Donald L. Almer, who pursued an armed robbery suspect vehicle while being fired upon last August. Almer administered first aid to both suspects after the vehicle crashed and he returned fire after the driver fired upon him; Chelan County Sheriff's Deputies Adam Musgrove and Ryan Moody, who saved a man from a burning building last September; and Monroe Police Sgt. Rick Dunn, who moved a suicidal man from the path of a train last June.