Funeral of second Des Moines police officer is today

Officer Carlos Morales.

Officer Carlos Morales.

Law officers will gather once again today at a West Des Moines church to salute a fallen colleague.

Thousands of officers from across the state and the country joined in prayer and showed their support for the family of Des Moines Police Officer Susan Farrell are her funeral Wednesday. Her partner, Carlos Puente-Morales, died in the same accident that took Farrell’s life and he will be laid to rest today.

Des Moines police department spokesman, Sergeant Paul Parizek, says some of the officers he spoke with at Farrell’s funeral stayed in town, while others were going home and a different set of officers is returning for the second funeral.

“We’re expecting the same turnout and the same support that we received from our law enforcement family from across the state and the nation. Also the community, and the one addition, Carlos was a soldier and there will be a military presence here at the funeral and at the cemetery site,” according to Parizek. Puente-Morales, who was 34, will be buried at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter.

Parizek says the space at the Veterans Cemetery is very limited and they are asking the public to not enter the cemetery to allow room for the family and the funeral procession. Police vehicles stretched for miles with their lights flashing as Farrell’s body was taken from the church to the cemetery, and thousands of people lined also the route of funeral procession to pay their respects.

“It’s absolutely heartwarming to see people come out and support us in that manner,” Parizek says. “We talked a lot as a staff of the police department at Susan’s funeral that one thing that comes up in conversation is — the one thing we do really, really well is honor our dead — and it’s the one thing that we wish we weren’t doing. So, It’s kind of bittersweet in that sense.”

Puente-Morales’ funeral begins at 8:30 this morning a the St. Francis Assissi Catholic Church in West Des Moines. Two other people died in the crash, Tosha Hyatt was being transported from Council Bluffs in the patrol car by the officers. And police say 25-year-old Benjamin Beary was driving a car the wrong way on Interstate 80 when it struck the patrol car.

Hyatt’s funeral is Saturday in Council Bluffs. Beary’s family plans a private service.

Ag Secretary says state better prepared to deal with bird flu this year

Bill Northey

Bill Northey

The first case of avian influenza was confirmed in Iowa almost one year ago. Within a few months, the disease had wiped out more than 34 million chickens and turkeys on 77 Iowa poultry operations.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says he’s hopeful we won’t see a repeat this year, but if we do, the state is better prepared.

“We’re recognizing that last year it was really tough to respond as fast as it came,” Northey says. “It was tough to respond as fast as we needed to to put birds down that were starting to get sick. The goal from U.S.D.A. and all of us now is to get the birds put down within 24 hours of a confirmation.”

Northey says one major change that’s been implemented is in how state and federal agriculture officials interact with owner/operators where avian flu has been confirmed.

“We will dedicate somebody from the Department of Ag and Land Stewardship to work directly with that farmer,” Northey says. “That person won’t change through the whole process. The U.S.D.A. has changed their process as well in how they will work with folks. There will be more continuity there instead of that constant churn that happened last time.”

Since last year’s outbreak, Northey says many of the state’s poultry farms that were impacted are back in full swing, especially the smaller operations. “Many of the bigger farms just can’t get pullets fast enough to refill a facility that’s got a million birds or 3 million birds or 5 million birds,” Northey says. “The ability to fill their barns with birds means some of them probably won’t be back at full capacity until the end of the year.”

It’s thought the disease was transmitted in large part by wild waterfowl, ducks and geese, during their annual migration.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)

Cedar Rapids woman dies in condo fire

Fire-truckOne person is dead after a fire this morning in Cedar Rapids.

Fire crews were sent to a condominium building at 1218 Oakland Road NE in Cedar Rapids at 2:40 a.m. The three-story building houses six condos and flames were showing from one of the units as firefighters arrived.

Police were told everyone escaped the building, but the resident of the unit on fire was unaccounted for. Firefighters entered the building and rescued the woman. She was rushed to a hospital, but was pronounced dead.

The victim’s name has not been released and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Officials says there’s extensive fire damage to the one apartment and smoke damage throughout the rest of the building.

According to data from the State Fire Marshal’s office, this is Iowa’s 17th fire fatality of the year.

First funeral for Des Moines police officer is today

A patrol car memorial in frond of the Des Moines department is covered in flowers.

A patrol car memorial in front of the Des Moines Department is covered in flowers.

The first of two Des Moines police officers killed in an accident Saturday will be laid to rest today.

Officer Susan Farrell and partner Carlos Puente-Morales died when a car traveling the wrong way on Interstate 80 hit their police SUV head on. Farrell’s funeral is this morning at 11 o’clock.

Des Moines Police Department spokesperson, Sergeant Paul Parizek says they’ve gotten responses from officers in other states who will attend the funeral

“We’ve had phone calls from as far away as Georgia, people inquiring about the services. There’s a teletype we sent out to every agency in the nation and we’ve had a lot of response — particularly from the midwest,” Parizek says.

He says the funeral procession will stretch between 8 and 10 miles. Parizek says things will be congested as they leave West Des Moines and head down the Interstate to the cemetery. He says they are expecting well over 1,000 emergency vehicles in the funeral procession.

The Des Moines Fire Department will stretch ladder trucks over the roadway to hold a large American flag that the funeral procession will pass under. Police officers will also line the overpasses as the funeral procession makes its way from West Des Moines to the cemetery in Des Moines.

Officer Puente-Morales’ funeral is set for Friday.

Knoxville man identified as driver involved in fatal crash with Des Moines officers

Ben Beary

Ben Beary

The Iowa Department of Public Safety has released the name of the driver of the second car in a fatal crash early Saturday morning that killed four people.

The State Medical Examiner has identified 25-year-old Ben Beary of Knoxville as the driver of the car which crashed head-on into a Des Moines police SUV at 12:30 in the morning on Interstate 80 near Waukee.

State troopers say Beary and Des Moines police officers Carlos Puente-Morales, who was 34, and Susan Farrell, who was 30, died. A prisoner the officers were transporting from Council Bluffs, 32-year-old Tosha Hyatt of Des Moines, also died in the accident.

Troopers says Beary’s Ford Taurus was traveling the wrong way on the intestate at the time and they are still investigating details of the crash. Beary’s family issued a statement through an attorney that says they know Ben was watching basketball games Friday night with friends, and it says: ” We know he would never intentionally cause this pain.” Beary’s family expressed condolences to the other families of the other victims involved in the accident.

Farrell’s funeral is scheduled for 11 A.M. Wednesday at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. She will be buried in the Highland Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Des Moines.

Here is the full statement from Beary’s family:

“The family of 25-year-old Ben Beary is grieving his death, and we extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the three other people whose precious lives were lost in the horrible crash early Saturday morning on Interstate 80. Our pain at losing Ben, a beloved son and brother, is multiplied by the knowledge that this collision brought so much grief to others.

We know Ben was watching basketball games Friday night with friends. We know he would never intentionally cause this pain. We hope that the police are able to piece together what happened next. But whatever information they find will not diminish the pain we feel at losing Ben at a young age. Nor will it lessen the grief for the families of Susan Farrell, Carlos-Puente-Morales, and Tosha Nicole Hyatt.

Our condolences go out to all who lost loved ones in this tragic accident. May God bless our families in our time of mourning. The family of Ben Beary requests privacy during this painful period.”

Photo courtesy of Beary family.