Police Officer Richard Anthony Champion
Perryopolis Borough Police Department, Pennsylvania
End of Watch: Sunday, December 14, 2014
Tour of Duty: 8 months
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Vehicle pursuit
Date of Incident: December 14, 2014
Weapon Used: Automobile
Suspect Info: At large
Agency Contact Information
Perryopolis Borough Police Department
312 East Independence Street
Perryopolis, PA 15473
Phone: () –
Police Officer Richard Champion was killed in a vehicle crash while pursing a vehicle on Pittsburgh Road, in Perry Township, at approximately 1:00 pm.
During the pursuit another vehicle turned in front of Officer Champion’s patrol car, causing a collision. Officer Champion became trapped in the patrol car while it caught fire. Several citizens attempted to break the windows but were unable to free him from the wreckage. The driver of the other vehicle in the crash was transported to a hospital in critical condition.
The vehicle he was pursuing continued to flee the and the driver remains at large.
Officer Champion was a military veteran. He had served with the Perryopolis Borough Police Department for eight months and also worked part-time with the Derry Borough Police Department. He is survived by his wife and 16-month-old child.
PERRYOPOLIS — A Perryopolis police officer was killed and an owner of a popular country store was badly injured Sunday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash on Route 51 in Fayette County.
Perryopolis police Chief Roger Beadling said Richard Champion, 35, of Ligonier, had been a part-time officer on the force for eight months.
A member of the Army Reserve, he was a married father of a 16-month-old boy.
Injured was Andy Bohatch, 69, of Uniontown and co-owner of Big Barn Country Store & Deli in neighboring Perry Township. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in critical condition.
State police at Belle Vernon said Officer Champion was driving southbound on Route 51 by Big Barn with his sirens and lights activated when Mr. Bohatch’s northbound SUV turned left into his path just before 1:15 p.m.
Officer Champion steered right to avoid a crash, but the two collided, and the police car also struck a business sign before catching fire, state police said.
The officer was involved in a pursuit when the crash occurred, police told KDKA-TV.
Two Big Barn employees, who did not want to identify themselves, said they were inside the store when they heard a "loud bang" and rushed outside.
One employee said, at first, only part of the police car was on fire, so he went back inside to get a fire extinguisher.
"I ran back, and the whole thing was engulfed," he said. A customer grabbed a hammer from his vehicle to break the police car window, but the officer appeared to be trapped inside, the employees said.
He died at the scene. Hospital officials did not have an updated condition for Mr. Bohatch Sunday night. The employees said he pulling into the store lot when the collision occurred.
Chief Beadling said Officer Champion’s first police job was with the Perryopolis department.
"He was a very dedicated police officer. His military training played a big role. … Very knowledgable guy, and a very good guy to work with."
"He was a true champion."
Officer Champion is survived by his wife, Dawn, and son, Tanner.