PARADISE VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Two people, including a former police chief, died after trying to help an injured dog in Paradise Valley on Sunday night.
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According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, it began around 6:30 p.m. when the driver of a Mercedes-Benz hit a dog while heading westbound on Lincoln Drive, just west of Tatum Boulevard. DPS says that the driver, 47-year-old Nooraly Lalji, then turned around and got out to help the injured dog.
Officials say former Paradise Valley Police Chief John Wintersteen, 78, came out of his nearby house and also tried to help the injured animal. Neighbors tell Arizona’s Family that the dog belonged to Wintersteen.
As they were tending to the dog, troopers say both men were struck by a Lexus SUV. At least one of the men was then hit again by a Nissan sedan. Lalji and Wintersteen were rushed to the hospital, where both later died. The dog also did not survive its injuries.
Investigators say the Lexus and Nissan drivers remained on the scene and cooperated. Impairment is not suspected as a factor in the deadly collision.
In addition to Paradise Valley, Wintersteen had previously served as police chief for Clarkdale. The town’s current police chief, Randy Taylor, sent a statement that reads in part: “Our community is in mourning over learning of former Chief Wintersteen’s unfortunate passing. He was an amazing hands-on leader who put service above self. He will be greatly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”
“That’s what he is known for – just being helpful even to this day still with retirement, very giving with local charities giving his time and was always somebody you could count on when you needed him,” said Commander Patrick Beumler of the Paradise Valley Police Department.
Lincoln Drive was closed in both directions between Tatum Boulevard and 46th Street for hours during the investigation.
“Its terrible – somebody is trying to save an animal and then they get killed and somebody else does too,” said Gary Keltner, who lives in the area. “They were very admirable for doing it but it did cost them their lives and I would say if dog is out in traffic please do not try and rescue it, save your life and the other person’s life.. it’s just not worth it,” said neighbor Mary Keltner.
The town of Paradise Valley sent the following statement regarding the passing of former Chief Wintersteen:
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