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President Calls For Prayers

President Calls For Prayers
January 09
20:27 2019


Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye is calling upon the Navajo Nation for prayers of comfort for the family of fallen Salt River tribal police officer Clayton Townsend.

Townsend was killed in the line of duty January 8.

A passing vehicle struck Townsend as he was attending to a car he had pulled over, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The DPS reported that the driver who hit the officer – identified as Jerry Samstead, 40, of Scottsdale – admitted that he was texting while driving.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that Officer Townsend lost his life due to the negligence of a driver who chose to text while driving,” Begaye said.

Townsend was a “guardian of the people,” and had been with the force five years, Salt River Police Chief Karl Auerbach said. The officer leaves a wife and a 10-month-old child, Auerbach added.


“As drivers, it’s our responsibility to clear all distractions as we drive on roads, highways and interstates,” Begaye said. “Imagine the sorrow of his family, who pray for his safe return daily, to know that this could have been avoided.”

In honor of Officer Townsend, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered that all flags be flown at half-staff on January 9.

“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I send my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Townsend who put his life on the line daily to ensure the protection of our citizens,” Begaye said. “I stand with public safety departments and elected officials across the nation in urging everyone not to text while driving.”

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