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Pueblo County Sheriff who died in plane crash to be honored in National Memorial

Posted at 8:57 AM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 10:57:26-04

PUEBLO — A former Pueblo County Sheriff is being honored in the National Law Enforcement Memorial for his "dedication to service and compassion for others" 70 years after dying in a plane crash, according to a release.

Former Sheriff Joe E. Tucker's name will be added to the memorial as a historical line-of-duty death Wednesday in Washington D.C. after current Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor petitioned for his name to be unveiled. This week specifically is National Police Week, which honors and recognizes law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

Tucker, who had just turned 38, agreed to fly Barbara Z. Cook to her parents house in Minnesota after her husband was sentenced to prison for burglary in Pueblo. An investigation showed that Tucker was possibly low on gas, attempted an emergency landing and crashed in an area with "many rolling hills." The plane crashed on May 2, 1950, near Greeley, Nebraska.

The sheriff's office said possible factors in the crash were weather and a lack of pilot experience in cross-country flights, but an official cause was never made. One witness to the crash said she saw the airplane fly at a low altitude over her home twice and during the second time, she saw the plane "plummet toward the ground and disappear behind a hill." Tucker and Cook were pronounced dead by authorities at the crash.

Former Sheriff John McKee, who served from 1914 to 1918, will be honored at the ceremony as well. He died in 1918 due to injuries in an assault while trying to arrest a man in Pueblo.

The two names will be unveiled during a livestream at 6 p.m. on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's website. To view their site, click here.

“When we realized that Sheriff McKee and Sheriff Tucker had never been recognized for their line of duty deaths, we made a commitment to ensure that they both are appropriately and respectfully honored,” said Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor in a release. “It’s never too late to honor someone who provided service to our community and died in the line of duty.”

The two sheriffs are the fourth and fifth names to be added to the memorial from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office. The three other names at the memorial from the sheriff's office are Deputy W.W. Green, Captain Leide DeFusco and Inspector Warren Watts.

In an effort to continue honoring Tucker, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office is asking for help to identify any family members related to him. He was survived by his wife and is now buried at the Roselawn Cemetery.

The sheriff's office said the couple did not have children. Anyone with information is asked to contact Lt. Dave Clements at (719) 583-6435.