Trooper Jaimie Lynn Jursevics
Colorado State Patrol, Colorado
End of Watch: Sunday, November 15, 2015
Tour of Duty: 4 years, 10 months
Badge Number: 665
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Date of Incident: November 15, 2015
Weapon Used: Automobile; Alcohol involved
Suspect Info: Charged with vehicular homicide
Agency Contact Information
Colonel Scott G. Hernandez
Colorado State Patrol
700 Kipling Street
Lakewood, CO 80215
Phone: (303) 239-4532
Trooper Jaimie Jursevics was struck and killed by a drunk driver while investigating a minor crash on I-25, near Tomah Road, in Douglas County.
She was outside of her vehicle when she was struck by a car at approximately 8:50 pm. Trooper Jursevics succumbed to her injuries at the scene.
The driver who struck her fled the scene but was arrested a short while later by members of the Palmer Lake Marshal’s Office. He was charged with DUI, careless driving resulting in death, and other charges.
Trooper Jursevics had served with the Colorado State Patrol for just under five years. She is survived by her husband and young child.
A young Colorado family with Rapid City ties is enduring an “unimaginable nightmare” in the wake of a drunken-driving accident last week that took the life of a state trooper who also was a new mother.
Tomorrow morning, at a quiet church in Englewood, Colo., family, friends and dozens of law enforcement officers will say goodbye to Jaimie Jursevics, the 33-year-old Colorado state trooper and former Rapid City resident who was killed one week ago while standing along Interstate 25, waving a flashlight to summon a suspected drunk driver to the shoulder of the road.
An hour after the incident, sheriff’s deputies arrested 52-year-old Eric Peter Henderson, a highly decorated retired Army colonel, clad in a Peyton Manning jersey, who was on his way home from watching the Broncos-Chiefs game earlier in the day. Authorities say Henderson struck and killed Jursevics with his pick-up truck, then fled the scene.
"I killed a cop," Henderson told detectives through tears shortly after he was taken into custody, according to an arrest affidavit filed in the case.
Released from jail Wednesday on a $500,000 surety bond, Henderson has been charged with four felonies, including vehicular homicide, failure to remain on scene after an accident involving death, driving under the influence of alcohol, and careless driving causing death.
Jursevics and her husband, Didzis, welcomed a new daughter, Morgan Lynn, into their home in February. Following his wife’s death last Sunday night, "D.J." thanked everyone for the overwhelming support he had received through cards, social media and personal visits, particularly for the deeply caring nature of his wife’s co-workers in the state patrol.
“This is a very difficult time for our family and our friends as we are dealing with a reality that we never imagined,” he said in a statement. “Knowing how Jaimie impacted so many lives and her accomplishments as a state trooper makes me extremely proud to be her husband. She was a loving wife and an amazing mother to our baby daughter."
He continued in powerful prose: “Please respect our request for privacy as what was supposed to be one of the happiest years of our life is now a terrible and unimaginable nightmare.”
Born in Burke, S.D., and raised in Rapid City, Jursevics attended Dakota Middle School and Rapid City Central High School. She met her future husband in 2003, and together they moved to the Denver area the following year. They were married Sept. 6, 2008, in San Diego.
According to her obituary, in 2007 Jursevics followed her passion for criminal justice and public service by joining the law enforcement family as a 911 dispatcher. This motivated her to pursue her dream and ultimately to join the Colorado State Patrol.
A spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol said Jursevics had been hired in January 2011, after graduating the previous June from a 22-week course at the Colorado State Patrol Academy in Golden. She was initially assigned to the patrol’s Vail post, but transferred to its Castle Rock office about a half-hour south of downtown Denver in September 2014, he said.
Trooper Josh Lewis said he and his fellow troopers were shocked by Jursevics’ death, only the 26th death of a trooper in the state patrol’s 80-year history.
“When I consider the people with whom I’ve communicated, it comes down to the phrase, `Only the good die young,’” Lewis said. “In this particular case, that is certainly true. No one with whom she interacted had a bad word to say about her. They appreciated her and she will be greatly missed.”
Denver-area media coverage predominately focused on the arrest of Henderson, his 27 years in the military, six overseas deployments, presidency of the Mountain and Plains Appaloosa Horse Club, and the six beers he reportedly consumed at the Broncos game. But those who knew Jursevics say the reports missed the most important element of the story — the loss of a young life well-lived.
“She was like a daughter to me,” retired Rapid City Stevens High School teacher Linda Biers said through tears. “She was just the sweetest, kindest girl. I thought the world of her and my heart just breaks every time I think about this tragedy. But all the coverage has been about the man who killed her, not about the person she was.”
Biers and her husband, Dallas, got to know Jursevics over a period of years when one son, Brandon, dated her and another son, Jason, hired her to work for him at Sub City, his business on Omaha Street.
“Her kindness and the fact she would do anything, whether it was work, babysitting or providing a shoulder to cry on, was wonderful,” Biers said of the girl she knew as Jaimie Soebe. “She was just a beautiful soul and spirit.”
Even a dozen years after she had last seen Jursevics, Biers fondly recalled the woman who died too young, leaving behind a grieving husband and a baby girl.
“It is the tragedy of such a young life lost and a little girl who will only know her mother through pictures and stories,” she said.
Brandon Biers, now a certified public accountant in Gillette, Wyo., dated Jursevics for four years beginning when he was 19 and she was 17. He said on Thursday that he might have turned out differently if not for the relationship he had with the “skinny girl with the huge smile and lots of teeth, ear to ear.”
“She was there at a time in my life when I had to hit re-set,” the 1998 Stevens graduate said. “Jaimie was the one who made it possible for me to grow and become a better person. She was so fiercely loyal, and ready to sacrifice everything for me. She helped me evolve.”
Brandon said he was attracted to his girlfriend’s optimistic nature.
“She never complained, never said, ‘Poor me,’” he said. “She just made it work and never thought the glass was half-empty. It was always half-full.”
When Brandon met Jaimie, she had dropped out of Central High School and was working full-time, but was seeking to obtain her GED. He said he wasn’t surprised she had sought a career in law enforcement.
“It’s so long ago, but what comes to mind was how nice, how caring and how gentle she was,” he said. “She always wanted to help people.”
Brandon’s brother, Jason, now a cardiovascular assistant for heart doctors in Grand Forks, N.D., credited Jursevics with helping keep his Rapid City sub shop profitable and, even today, laments the fact she wouldn’t accept a managerial role.
“She was quite the amazing kid and she helped keep my business afloat,” Jason Biers recalled on Friday. "(She) moved out when she was 16. By the time she was 20, she had bought her own house. She came a long way from where she started.”
When his mother called him early last week to inform him of Jursevics’ death, Jason said he was deeply moved and remained so.
“My thought was just how sad I was because of what she had done with her life,” he said. “You hear of young people dying, drunk-driving, gang-related, just stupid stuff. Here was a young woman who worked hard and accomplished quite a bit. She had dated her husband for 10 years before they got married, had a baby, and was living life right. Such a nice kid now gone.”
The sadness of the Biers family over the tragic death of Jursevics is only compounded by the experience of their own daughter and sister, a California firefighter whose life changed in an instant.
“My daughter, who was the only girl on a hot shot crew in California, drank and drove and killed a woman,” Linda Biers said Thursday, a few hours before she and her husband boarded a flight to go visit that daughter in a prison outside San Francisco.
The daughter, who Biers asked not be named, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and is not eligible for release until January 2019, Biers said.
“We have total empathy because we have been on both sides — the perpetrator and the victim,” she said. “Good people sometimes make poor decisions.
“Maybe some young person will read this and understand that one wrong decision can change your life forever.”