Captain Leide DeFusco Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado End of Watch: Friday, August 31, 2012

Captain Leide DeFusco | Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, ColoradoPueblo County Sheriff's Office, Colorado

Captain Leide DeFusco

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado
End of Watch: Friday, August 31, 2012

Biographical Info

Age: 43
Tour of Duty: 22 years
Badge Number: Unit 7

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Aircraft accident
Date of Incident: August 31, 2012
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Agency Contact Information

Sheriff Kirk Taylor
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office
909 Court Street
Pueblo, CO 81003
Phone: () –

Captain Leide DeFusco was killed in an airplane crash as he and John Barger, a retired Pueblo Police Department captain, searched for marijuana grows in the Wet Mountains.
A narcotics task force had raided two large marijuana plantations in the area two weeks earlier and the two were searching for additional grows nearby when radio contact was lost at approximately 9:30 am. A rescue team located the smoldering wreckage of the Piper Super Cruiser in rugged terrain in the San Isabel National Forest, approximately five miles below St. Charles Peak, in Custer County.
Mr. Barger was an experienced pilot who provided flight services to local law enforcement agencies.
Captain DeFusco had served in law enforcement for a total of 22 years. He had previously served with the Pueblo Police Department. He is survived by his wife and four children.

A Pueblo County Sheriff’s deputy and a retired Pueblo police officer died Friday in a plane crash in the San Isabel National Forest.

The duo had been surveilling the forest searching for illegal marijuana grows when their plane went down near St. Charles Peak, Sheriff Kirk Taylor said.

"We’re all pretty devastated," a dejected Taylor told the media late Friday.

Officials did not release the names of the victims, but The Chieftain has learned they are Sheriff’s Capt. Leide DeFusco and John Barger, a retired police captain.

DeFusco’s Facebook page was flooded with condolences and well-wishes for his family. His biography on the sheriff’s website said he was a 21-year law enforcement veteran with both the county and city.

DeFusco was head of the patrol division, Colorado State University-Pueblo patrol and the narcotics unit.

DeFusco was preparing to leave for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy.

Barger retired from the police department in 2009 after a 32-year career. He retired as captain of investigations.

A flying enthusiast, Barger was piloting the plane when it went down. Merle Manweiler is a fellow pilot and friend who knew Barger well.

"John died doing the two things he loved most in life — being a cop and flying an airplane. That says it all," Manweiler said. "The Pueblo airport won’t be the same without him."

On Aug. 15, law enforcement raided two illegal marijuana plantations in the Wet Mountains. Barger and DeFusco were flying the mountain range searching for additional grows.

Taylor said contact was lost with the airplane, a single-engine Piper Super Cruiser, about 9:40 a.m. At 7:11 p.m., rescue crews found the smoldering wreckage, about four or five miles below St. Charles Peak on national forest land in Custer County.

Taylor said the plane wrecked in steep, rugged terrain and that as many as 60 search and rescuers from the sheriff’s office, Custer and Fremont counties, the forest service and FBI were on hand.

A Flight for Life helicopter was used to locate the wreck and transport people into the crash area.

"I can tell you manpower was easy. With that much we could’ve moved the mountain," Taylor said.

The cause of the wreck was not known. Taylor said investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive this morning, when recovery efforts resume.

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2 Responses to “Captain Leide DeFusco Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado End of Watch: Friday, August 31, 2012”


  1. 1 Joan Parker September 1, 2012 at 12:42

    Rest In Peace Officer DeFusco…

  2. 2 Ed Collins September 1, 2012 at 18:40

    God bless Leide. May you rest in peace…………ed collins


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