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Friday, June 5, 2020
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Name of Former Sheriff Killed in Plane Crash to be Added to National Memorial
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Pueblo, CO: Former Pueblo County Sheriff Joe E. Tuckerís devotion to duty, dedication to service and compassion for others was a trademark of his short tenure as Sheriff. Those traits also were factors that contributed to Tuckerís unfortunate and untimely death 70 years ago. Tucker died May 2, 1950, in the crash of a plane he was piloting after he agreed to transport a woman to her home in Minnesota after her husband was sentenced to prison. The plane went down in field near Greeley, Neb., in inclement weather. Now, seven decades later, Tuckerís decision to answer the call of duty that resulted in his death will be recognized after Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor successfully petitioned to have Tuckerís name added as a historical line-of-duty death to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. Tuckerís name will be unveiled on the memorial in May.

Representatives from the Pueblo County Sheriffís Office will attend the unveiling ceremony in Washington, D.C. Tucker, who turned 38 the day before his death, was elected sheriff in 1948 and was in the middle of his first term when he unselfishly agreed to take Barbara Z. Cook to her parentsí home in Brainerd, Minnesota after her husband was found guilty in Pueblo of burglary and sentenced to prison. Tucker had recently bought his own plane, a 1947 Ryan Navion, agreed to fly Cook home himself. Three hours after takeoff, the plane encountered heavy cloud cover with visibility at only 250 feet above the ground. A witness reported seeing and hearing the airplane flying at a low altitude as it passed over her home twice. The witness said on the second flyover, she saw the plane plummet toward the ground and disappear behind a hill. After hitting the ground, the plane tumbled for approximately 250 feet before coming to a stop. The plane had broken into pieces and both Tucker and Cook were pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation into the crash revealed that Tucker possibly was low on fuel and preparing for an emergency landing but underestimated where the ground was and crashed. The area where the accident happened had many rolling hills. Weather and a lack of pilot experience in cross- country flights were noted as possible factors in the crash but an official cause was never determined.

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The Greenhorn Valley View is a weekly newspaper serving the communities of the Greenhorn Valley in Southern Colorado,
including Colorado City, Rye, San Isabel, Beulah and Hatchet Ranch.

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