PEORIA, Ariz. — A Peoria police officer died Wednesday after crashing his motorcycle during a youth academy training session.
The department identified the officer as Jason Judd, a 21-year veteran of the force. Judd was seriously injured in the crash on the campus of Liberty High School in Peoria.
The department was conducting a Youth Citizen Police Academy Camp session earlier in the day. The course was already over when the crash happened.
Judd was rushed to the hospital with significant injuries and died just before noon.
"Today is a tough day for the Peoria Police Department," Peoria Police Chief Art Miller said solemnly.
Judd served with the department's traffic services unit for 17 years and frequently took part in driver safety and education programs.
After the crash, a procession took place as dozens of officers from multiple departments joined in an "Honor Ride" to say goodbye to the fellow officer.
12 News spoke to one of Judd's brothers in blue, former Peoria Sgt. Mike Tellef, who describes the news as just absolute shock.
Tellef says it's simply feelings of sadness and heartbreak when it comes the loss of a fellow officer, especially one like him.
"I was with Jason a lot out at scenes of fatal crashes and serious accidents so I spent a lot of time with him," Tellef said.
He said Judd was the frontman when it came to PSAs about traffic safety, even teamed up with the Governor’s Office of Public Safety to talk about being smart on city streets.
"I used Jason a lot for traffic safety pieces, in which I needed a motorcycle officer for it," he added.
Tellef says after several years of working together, the shock he feels stems from the awful irony of the accident.
"He was a very well-trained motorcycle officer and he trained a lot of motorcycle officers not only here in Peoria but here in the valley," Tellef told 12 News.
He adds motorcycle officers go through extensive training with bike basics following the academy and he was surprised at what went wrong, knowing Judd was thoroughly trained and highly-skilled.
"It's going to be a shock to hear what it is because he was such a skilled motorcycle officer," he said.
It's an unbelievable loss for the Peoria Police Department as they say goodbye to the 52-year old who leaves behind a wife and children.
"I'm sure it's hitting his family extremely hard, he was a pretty good family man and he was just a great guy in general just had a fantastic personality," Tellef added.
Tellef was adamant that retirees like himself, stand with Judd's family in whatever they may need in the days, months and years following this tragic loss.