Law officers are mourning the loss of a Sac and Fox Nation tribal police officer killed Tuesday in a head-on crash while he was on-duty.
According to law enforcement officials, Sac and Fox Nation tribal police officer Nathan Graves was on duty about 6 a.m. Tuesday, headed south on Highway 99 near County Road 750 in Lincoln County when Justin Henley, 21, was northbound in his pickup.
Investigators said Henley was passing in a "no passing zone" when he and Graves both tried to avoid the crash in the west side ditch, but hit head-on.
It happened right in front of Sheri and Mike Claytor's ranch.
“I got up and had walked around the end of the bed, and about that time, I heard what sounded like an explosion or maybe a tire blowout or something,” Mike Claytor said.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Graves died at the scene, and first responders spent more than three hours extricating him from the police vehicle.
Lincoln County Sheriff Charlie Dougherty said Graves was well-known in the law enforcement community, starting his career at Stroud Police Department in 2009 and spending the last three years with Sac and Fox Nation tribal police.
“Everybody’s taking it real hard. They’re a small agency, seven or eight officers, so they all work real close together,” Dougherty said.
Graves was married, had a 20-year-old son at home, a daughter deployed in the Navy and other relatives living in Georgia, Dougherty said.
“They’re in shock. They’re tore up. It’s my understanding, a week or two ago, they buried officer Graves’s brother,” he said. “They just returned from Georgia from accomplishing that, so the whole family is devastated.”
“Today, our flags are flying at half-mast to honor the loss of Sac and Fox Nation tribal police officer Nathan Graves,” the Sac and Fox Nation Principal Chief Kay Rhoads said in a news release. “We are mourning the passing of Nathan and expressing our deepest thoughts and prayers to his wife Janet and family.”
Sac and Fox Nation tribal police Chief Bob Roberts said Graves had a distinguished career as a law officer.
Troopers will submit its findings to the District Attorney to make any charging decisions in the case.
Online court records show Henley had convictions in Payne County for failing to properly wear a seatbelt (driver) in 2016 and not wearing a seatbelt (driver) in 2014. Sheriff Dougherty said Henley was treated and released from a local hospital.