DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 and sunrise to sunset on Friday, April 1, to honor Des Moines Police Officers Susan Farrell and Carlos Puente-Morales, who were killed in the line of duty in the early morning hours of March 26. Officer Farrell will be laid to rest on Wednesday, March 30 and Officer Puente-Morales, Friday, April 1.
The governor’s directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. Flags will be at half-staff on the state Capitol building and on flag displays in the Capitol complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.
Branstad released a statement after the crash.
“Our hearts are heavy this Easter weekend on the news of an early morning crash on Interstate 80,” said Branstad. “We’re learning that the crash took the lives of two young Des Moines police officers who dedicated their lives to protecting public safety and were killed in the line of duty. Chris and I wish to extend our sincere sympathies to the families of everyone impacted in this horrific accident.”
At 12:32AM, March 26, 2016, West Com Dispatch received a call of a car traveling the wrong way on I-80; a minute later they received another call that a crash had occurred involving that vehicle.
At 12:34AM, State Troopers were dispatched to the crash that happened in the eastbound lanes of I-80 at the 117 mile marker (Waukee exit).
The first trooper arrived on scene within minutes and advised that a car was fully engulfed in flames.
Troopers determined that this was a head-on crash involving a Ford Taurus and a Des Moines Police Department SUV.
The initial investigation indicates that the Des Moines Police Department SUV was traveling eastbound on I-80 in the inside lane and the Ford Taurus was traveling in the wrong direction (west-bound in the east-bound lanes) when it crashed into the Des Moines Police Department SUV. The Des Moines Police Department SUV came to rest in the median while the Ford Taurus came to rest on the interstate.
The driver of the Ford Taurus and three people in the Des Moines Police Department SUV were all pronounced dead at the scene.
The victims involved in this morning’s crash have been identified as: Des Moines Police Officer Carlos Puente-Morales, 34; and Des Moines Police Officer Susan Farrell, 30.
The prisoner being transported in the police vehicle involved in this crash has been identified as 32 year old Des Moines resident Tosha Nicole Hyatt.
The Iowa State Patrol Crash Reports website will have updated victim information as it becomes available.
Traffic was rerouted off of the interstate at the interchange for several hours in both directions after the crash and has since re-opened. Due to the time of the crash, interstate traffic was light and no major delays occurred.
The Iowa State Patrol is conducting a technical investigation of the crash scene and this crash is still under investigation.
All four deceased individuals were taken to the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny where autopsies will be performed this weekend. Autopsy results could take several weeks.
Several departments responded to the scene including the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Iowa State Patrol Division (ISP), Waukee Police Department, Waukee Fire Department, West Des Moines Fire Department, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, the Dallas County Medical Examiner, assisted by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner.