Friends, colleagues remember Trooper Slagle as a man who 'loved helping people'

12:25 AM, Jan 26, 2013   |    comments
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Video: THP trooper dies after accident

  • Trooper Mike Slagle

A trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol has died after an accident on an icy road Friday morning.

According to THP, Trooper Mike Slagle, 53, was on his way to work before 7:00 am when he had a medical condition.  Officials are not sure if that's what caused him to crash his vehicle on Longmire Road in Northeast Knox County.  He called for help, but officials say he died of what appeared to be natural causes before help arrived.   He was discovered unresponsive and was unable to be revived at the scene.

"What we understand, he was there for a couple of hours, and he did wreck. The roadway was so slick and that's what caused him to leave the roadways and strike the tree," said THP Lt. Michael Melhorn.

When a Rural/Metro fire truck arrived on the scene, the driver of the truck was unable to stop on the icy road, and slid off the pavement and landed on top of Trooper Slagle's cruiser.

"There was no connection, the fire truck shows up to help, and slid off the road and into Trooper Slagle's vehicle," Lt. Melhorn added.

One firefighter suffered a bloody nose in that accident, but none of the others were hurt.

A man who was on the scene trying to help the trooper was hit by the fire truck, and suffered a collarbone injury.  He was transported to a local hospital.  There is no word on his condition.

"Trooper Slagle was a 26-year veteran of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He was a model trooper and a good man. It is a very sad day for our Highway Patrol family and all who knew Michael," Colonel Tracy Trott said. "Our prayers go out to his family during this difficult time," Trott added.

Trooper Slagle joined the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1986. Originally from Grainger County, he was initially assigned to Campbell County. During his tenure, he served in both Union and Knox Counties before his current assignment in the Supreme Court detail in Knox County.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee frequently had lunch with Slagle.

"He will be remembered as someone who was a true professional. He was an outstanding state trooper. He wore his badge with great pride," says Lee.

She says Slagle had just returned from a vacation, full of stories about the trip he took with his wife.

Trooper Slagle became a field training officer in 2000. Outside of his duties as a state trooper, he also helped provide security for the University of Tennessee marching band in 2003.

Prior to becoming a state trooper, Trooper Slagle served as a Deputy Sheriff for the Grainger County Sheriff's Office from 1978-1985.

That's where Grainger County E-911 Executive Director Randy Holt met him.

They were both rookies with the sheriff's office in the '80s and says his friends lesson's of compassion stay with him even today.

"He helped me a lot in learning how to look at the person, instead of the criminal," says Holt. "He loved helping people. From a deputy, to highway patrolman, I know Mike, I'm sure he spent more time helping people than arresting."

Holt says he regrets losing touch with Slagle after he moved on.

"I let some things slip away," says Holt.

Both Lee and Holt agree, he'll be remembered as a 'people person' with a quick wit and slow-to-anger personality.

He is a 1978 graduate of Rutledge High School in Grainger County.

Trooper Slagle is survived by his wife and two daughters, and a son. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

"He will be missed by a lot of people," said Lt. Melhorn.

Rural/Metro released the following statement in reacting to Slagle's death:

"It is a sad day for public safety in Tennessee whenever we lose one of our own. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Trooper Slagle's family, loved ones and our fellow emergency responders at the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The extreme weather we have experienced in Eastern Tennessee in the past 24 hours has left our roads in very treacherous condition and we implore all drivers to be extremely cautious.

Previous story

According to THP, the trooper was involved in an accident Friday morning on Longmire Road, and called for a wrecker.  A few hours later, no one had heard from him, so a Rural/Metro fire truck went to look for him, but it got into an accident.

The trooper's condition is not being released.

A Rural/Metro fire chief says a bystander was also injured in this accident.

Previous story

A trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been injured in an accident on Longmire Road near Emory Road Friday morning, according to Knox County dispatchers.

We do not know the extent of the trooper's injuries.

On the way to the scene, a Rural/Metro fire truck slid off the road and turned over.  A 10News crews on the scene was told that no one was hurt.

Reporter Steve Butera saw an injured person being carried on a gurney from the scene of the trooper's accident, which is a little farther down the road.

Icy conditions are hampering the rescue crew's efforts.


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