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Hero Down: Cottonwood PD Commander Jody Makuch Killed By Impaired Driver

Cottonwood, AZ – Cottonwood Police Department (CPD) Commander Jody Makuch was killed in an off-duty motorcycle crash on Sept. 7, after a suspected impaired driver slammed into him head-on.

The fatal collision occurred on State Route 89A at Willard Street at approximately 2:40 p.m., The Arizona Republic reported.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS), the driver of an SUV veered into the oncoming lane and collided with the 49-year-old officer, The Verde Valley Independent reported.

Police said the man behind the wheel of the SUV, 41-year-old Jason Howard Engel, was suspected of being impaired at the time of the crash, according to The Arizona Republic.

Commander Makuch was rushed to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Engel was booked on a charge of suspicion of manslaughter, The Arizona Republic reported.

Additional charges are expected, according to police.

The ADPS is handling the ongoing investigation into Commander Makuch’s death.

CPD Chief Steve Gesell said that Commander Makuch “represented the best in humanity,” The Verde Valley Independent reported.

“He was, first and foremost, a loving and dedicated husband and father. His family was everything to him,” Chief Gesell said. “He was a veteran, selfless public servant, mentor, and friend. He will be greatly missed. We ask that the public keep his family in their thoughts and prayers during this tragic and difficult time and respect their privacy.”

Commander Makuch served in the U.S. Army for over seven years prior to joining the Elk City Police Department in Oklahoma in 1998, according to the City of Cottonwood’s website.

He relocated to Cottonwood in January of 2000, and had been serving as a commander since November of 2009.

Commander Makuch was assigned to the Support Services Division at the time of his passing, according to the city’s website.

During the course of his 20-year career with the CPD, Commander Makuch worked in patrol, corrections, and in various SWAT positions.

He also served as a field training officer and supervisor.

According to the Northern Arizona University Police Department (NAUPD), Commander Makuch often worked overtime events at the campus.

Every summer, he helped host the Arizona Leadership Education and Development program for high school students on campus alongside the NAUPD, the department said in a Facebook post.

“Please keep the Makuch family and the Cottonwood Police Department in your thoughts and prayers as they navigate this very difficult time,” the NAUPD’s post read.

Commander Makuch leaves behind his wife, Joanna, as well as his children, Spencer, Hudson, Gabrielle, and Ashleigh, according to The Verde Valley Independent.

A fundraising campaign established to help his family in the wake of their loss has raised over $5,300 so far.

Commander Makuch will be laid to rest on Friday.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Cottonwood Police Department Commander Jody Makuch, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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