Tragic Week for Highway Patrollers

August 24, 2007

A boulder that fell from a mountain crushed one traffic cop’s patrol truck with him in it, and an angry driver shot another traffic cop in what was a tragic week for the country’s highway patrollers.

“That’s two officers who died within 48 hours.We sincerely lament what happened.

They both saved many lives on the highway,” Assistant Traffic Police Director Huanelge Gutiérrez told The Tico Times.

The week of mourning for the nation’s Traffic Police began Aug. 16, when a 30-kilogram rock fell off a cliff and smashed traffic patroller Fernando Berrios’ pick-up truck, which was parked along the highway from San José to the Caribbean port of Limón.

After the impact, Berrios, 36, crawled out of his Toyota pick-up and onto the

Braulio Carrillo Highway

at kilometer 27, where he died just after noon, according to Gutiérrez.

Two days later, Alexander Murillo, 34, was patrolling the

Inter-American Highway

near the Pacific port town of Puntarenas when he pulled over a Hyundai sedan around 8:30 a.m. in what Gutiérrez said appeared to be a routine stop. There was an altercation between Murillo and the driver, who was later identified as San Ramón resident Minor Carvajal.

While standing outside of their vehicles, Carvajal pulled out a pistol in broad daylight and shot Murillo five times, in the hand, abdomen, then in the back and head. Murillo died instantly.

Carvajal then escaped in the Hyundai sedan, but didn’t make it far. About 15 kilometers away near the western Central Valley town of San Ramón, he pulled off the highway and shot himself in the mouth. The tragedy stopped traffic Saturday morning on the

Inter-American Highway

.

Gutiérrez said the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) is investigating the case, and that the motive remains a mystery.

“We don’t know what happened, that stayed between the two of them,” he said.

 

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