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Police: Officer Killed by Driver Texting Wife About Evening

Clayton Townsend was standing near a car after a traffic stop when he was hit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2019 5:10 PM CST
In this undated photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Jerry Sanstead.   (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)
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(Newser) – Salt River tribal police Officer Clayton Townsend was standing near a car after performing a routine traffic stop near Scottsdale, Arizona, Tuesday night when he was fatally struck by another car. Police say the driver of that car, 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead Jr., admitted to them he was texting with his wife at the time about their evening plans and didn't see the flashing lights; according to a video of Sanstead's first court appearance, there were apparently no brake or skid marks at the scene. A witness also told police they saw Sanstead looking down at his phone while driving and witnessed him cross multiple lanes of traffic, AZCentral.com reports. Sanstead, who faces charges of endangerment, reckless manslaughter, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, was arrested but was released from jail early Thursday after he posted bond.

Townsend, who leaves behind a wife and 10-month-old son, was a cancer survivor and was not eligible for additional life insurance, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up for the family, the AP reports. "Nothing can fill the loss of Clayton but please help support his family through this terrible loss," it reads. "Our goal is to provide some financial support for Brixton and Deanna." Townsend, who had been with the department five years, had just returned to work following a Disney vacation with his family, Fox 8 reports. (A woman texted while driving and allegedly killed two girls.)

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