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Hero Down: Oregon State Police Sgt. John Burright Dies Of 20-Year-Old Injuries From Crash

Albany, OR – Retired Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant John Burright died in the line of duty on May 4 due to complications caused by injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car in 2001.

Sgt. Burright and Albany Police Officer Jason Hoerauf were assisting a disabled motorist on the shoulder of Interstate 5 near mile marker 243 when the incident occurred on Sept. 4, 2001, the OSP said in a press release on Wednesday.

Officer Hoerauf had been on a ride-along with his “friend and mentor,” Sgt. Burright, earlier that same day, the OSP noted.

As they were assisting the disabled motorist, OSP Senior Trooper Maria Mignano also stopped by to help.

“When the three were outside of their patrol cars, a driver that had been traveling northbound fell asleep,” the OSP said. “The driver veered off the interstate and struck all three officers.”

Officer Hoerauf and Trooper Mignano were killed instantly, the OSP said.

Sgt. Burright, then 41 years old, suffered critical injuries that forced him into early retirement the following year.

He passed away on May 4 due to complications of his injuries.

He was 61 years old, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

“John’s early death is a result of the traumatic injuries he received on the night of the collision and his death is designated as a line of duty death,” the OSP said. “This important designation will ensure that John’s family will receive all line of duty honors and death benefits afforded under state statute and Department of Oregon State Police provision, including an appropriate placement on our agency Fallen Trooper Memorial and the State of Oregon Memorial Wall.”

Sgt. Burright joined OSP as a recruit in March of 1987, according to the OSP.

He served in the Patrol Division in the communities of Roseburg, Albany, and Salem, where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

“At work, Sergeant Burright was a courageous and dedicated professional that shared his sense of humor with those he came into contact with, but away from work, he was a devoted and loving husband and a father to three sons,” OSP Superintendent Terri Davie said in the press release.

“The death of John is a vivid reminder of the dangers our Troopers face each day. It does not matter the type of call our Troopers respond to, risk is present the moment they put on their uniform and badge,” Superintendent Davie continued. “John is our 34th Oregon State Trooper that has died in the line of duty and we honor his and his family’s sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and all who knew John.”

A Salem city street was named in honor of Sgt. Burright on April 21, 2016, the OSP said.

The agency held a ceremony outside the agency’s headquarters to commemorate the occasion.

Sgt. Burright leaves behind his wife, Rhonda, and their three sons.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oregon State Police Sergeant John Burright, 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.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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