COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9 TV) - Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever was involved in a one vehicle accident near the town of Williams on Sept. 18 at approximately 7:00 p.m.
Sheriff Dever did not survive. He was 60 years old.
In a news release, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Public Information Office said that the collision occurred on Forest Service Road 109 approximately two miles north of White Horse Lake.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputies and medical personnel from the Williams Fire Department and Life Line Medical Transport responded to the collision location, confirming that Dever was dead upon their arrival at the scene.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Public Information Office said that Dever was traveling to the White Horse Lake area to meet with several family members for a camping and hunting trip.
This investigation is being continued by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.
9OYS asked Interim Sheriff Rodney Rothrock how the Cochise County Sheriff's Dept. will move forward?
"With determination," replied Rothrock. "It's a blow, its something that nobody expected. Its caused a lot of grief, the sheriff was a friend and mentor to everyone here."
"We are shocked, stunned, its a loss," continued Rothrock. "Most of the people that work for this organization have never worked for any sheriff other than Larry Dever."
Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered that flags at all State buildings be lowered to half-staff until sunset Sept. 19 and again on his day of interment, for which services are pending. Brewer also said in a statement:
“I had known Sheriff Dever for well over a decade, stretching back to my days with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. I’ll remember him in his cowboy hat – soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, but firm in his beliefs and steady in his service to the law. In the truest sense, Sheriff Dever was a Western lawman and country gentleman.
“Arizona has lost a leader of more than three decades in our law enforcement community. My thoughts and prayers today – and those of Arizonans, I am sure – are with his wife, Nancy, their children, friends and colleagues as they cope with this terrible loss."
Senators McCain and Kyl issued this joint statement about the loss of Dever:
"We were deeply saddened to learn about the sudden death of our friend Larry Dever. We spent a great deal of time at the border with Sheriff Dever and know first-hand his long commitment to keeping the people of our state safe. We also admired Sheriff Dever's strength to speak out when he believed more needed to be done to secure our border. Sheriff Dever was not only a leader in Cochise County, but also across Arizona and throughout the law enforcement community. Sheriff Dever was a man of honor, integrity and selfless service to the State of Arizona. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy, their sons and the rest of Dever family."
Congressman Paul A. Gosar said in a news release:
“With the sudden passing of Sheriff Dever last night, Arizona lost a true believer in justice and a great man. My wife Maude and I send our condolences to the Dever family, our thoughts and prayers are with them. Cochise County and Arizona lost an experienced and outspoken public servant who fought to keep our community safe.”
In an official statement, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said:
"I'm shocked and saddened to hear of Larry Dever's death, he was my friend, a leader on border security and leader among Sheriffs. This is a great loss to Arizona, a true patriot has died and he will be sorely missed."
Dever and Babeu were political allies who served as co-chairs of the Border Sheriffs Association to defend Arizona sheriffs from litigation over SB1070.
They worked together on border security issues and were the two Arizona sheriffs who stood with Senators McCain and Kyl in Washington, D.C. as they announced the McCain/Kyl 10 Point Security Plan in early 2010.
In a phone interview with 9OYS Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County said despite their political differences, he admired Dever's dedication to the law.
"I had great respect for him," Estrada said. "He will be missed and it will be very difficult to replace him."
Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio talked to KGUN'S sister station, ABC15 in Phoenix, about how he knew Dever for "many, many years."
“He’s a traditional border sheriff and has done a great job throughout the years," Arpaio said. "He covered that border as a federal official for many years. It’s a tough job, and he worked that border. He did a great job. It’s just a sad situation. My condolences go out to the family.”
According to the sheriff's department website, Dever joined the agency as a deputy in 1976. In 1996, he was elected as the head of the county's law enforcement agency. He was last re-elected in 2008.
Dever garnered national attention when he testified before a federal court in support of SB1070, Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law. At the time, he said the federal government was failing to secure the border.
In lieu of flowers, the Dever family requests that donations be sent to Cochise County Search and Rescue and the Cochise County Sheriff's Office Sheriff's Assist Team.
Cochise County Sheriff
Search and Rescue
Cochise County Service Center
4001 E. Foothills Drive
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
205 North Judd Drive
Mile Post 345, Highway 80
Bisbee, Arizona 85603