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CHP officer, motorist hit and killed during traffic stop

Cassie Dickman, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A California Highway Patrol officer and another driver were hit and killed Friday by a truck on westbound I-80 in Fairfield in Solano County during a traffic stop, according to the CHP.

At about 9 a.m. CHP motorcycle Officer Kirk Griess was conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle on the right westbound shoulder of I-80 near Manuel Campus Parkway when a white Chevrolet pickup truck left the main portion of the road and traveled into the shoulder, said Ernie Sanchez, chief of the CHP's Golden Gate division, in a news conference Friday afternoon.

The truck struck both Griess and the stopped vehicle, described as being a Saturn. Griess and the driver of the Saturn, Jaime Bueza Manuel of Vallejo, were transported to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, where they both were pronounced dead, the CHP said.

"Today's a tough day," Sanchez said. "It's a tough day for the California Highway Patrol."

It is unclear at the time how fast the truck was driving when it struck Griess and the Saturn, but he described the impact as "very significant."

"The Saturn is almost half size of what it should and the scene is not a very pretty scene," Sanchez said. "Our hearts go out to (Manuel's) family as well."

Griess, 46, a former Marine, served in the CHP for 19 years, the last 16 years at the department's Solano County office.

He is survived by his wife, two adult daughters and 14-year-old son, all of which are residents of Solano County, Sanchez said.

Sanchez described Griess as a "friend, a great man" who took time to volunteer around Fairfield and to coach youth sports.

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"He was in the prime of his career, making a difference," Sanchez said. "He was the ultimate public servant. He loved what he did. He loved being a CHP officer. He loved being a CHP motorcycle officer," said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley.

The driver of the truck is not under arrest at this time.

"It's critically important that you slow down and move over when you see first responders on the shoulder of the freeway," Sanchez said.

A bell toll tribute ceremony will be held in memory of Griess on Monday at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento.

(The Bee's Adam Ashton contributed to this story.)

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