Sergeant Stuart J. Searles

Sergeant Stuart J. Searles

Sauk County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin

End of Watch Sunday, June 10, 1984

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Stuart J. Searles

Sergeant Stuart Searles was killed in a helicopter crash while assisting with search and recovery efforts after a tornado caused heavy damage to the town of Barneveld, Iowa County, Wisconsin.

The F5 tornado struck the town on June 8th, 1984, killing nine people. Sergeant Searles was detailed to fly the Wisconsin governor above the devastation the day after the tornado. On June 10th he was again requested to respond to the area to assist with recovery efforts. While en route to the area the Hiller UH-12E helicopter experienced an electrical malfunction that caused the battery to explode as it flew approximately 75 feet above ground, near Merrimac, Wisconsin.

Sergeant Searles was able to maneuver the aircraft to an area without bystanders. The aircraft exploded upon impact with the ground, killing Sergeant Searles instantly.

Sergeant Searles was a United States Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran and had served with the Sauk County Sheriff's Department for five years. He had previously served with the Windham County, Vermont, Sheriff's Office for seven years. He was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 38
  • Tour 12 years
  • Badge 10
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Aircraft accident

helicopter crash, natural disaster, weather

Most Recent Reflection

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It’s hard to believe 38 years you have been gone my friend. I have such great memories made with you and your family. I can only imagine where your potential would have taken you. Rest assure you will always be in our hearts.

Terry Spencer. Lt-Retired
Sauk Co Sheriff and friend

June 11, 2022

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