Reserve Deputy James Edward Healy

Reserve Deputy James Edward Healy

Napa County Sheriff's Department, California

End of Watch Sunday, May 25, 1980

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James Edward Healy

Reserve Deputy Healy drowned while attempting to recover the body of another drowning victim from Lake Berryessa.

Deputy Healy and another member of the Napa County Sheriff's Department's dive team had located the sunken boat, attached a line to it, and surfaced to obtain new air tanks. Deputy Healy and another deputy then began to follow the line to the boat. At 96 feet, Deputy Healy met the second deputy and indicated everything was okay, but shortly thereafter, indicated he needed to surface.

As both deputies began to surface, Deputy Healy indicated he was out of air. The other deputy attempted to give Deputy Healy his regulator, but as Deputy Healy attempted to swim to it, he accidentally knocked off the mask of the other diver. The other diver could no longer see and was unable to get the regulator to Deputy Healy. The deputy surfaced and immediately reported that Deputy Healy was in trouble.

Another diver immediately suited up and entered the lake. He located Deputy Healy's body approximately 60 feet down. The deputies in the boat were able to pull Deputy Healy to the surface using his safety line and immediately started CPR. He was flown to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Deputy Healy was a United States Navy WWII veteran and had served with the Napa County Sheriff's Department for five years. He was survived by his wife, brother, and sister.


  • Age 55
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Drowned

water rescue

Most Recent Reflection

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I am the engraver of the American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville FL. This brave soul will be memorialized for his service to our community this month. Forgotten, not forgotten, hid away until now. As with most years, I have to organize the names to be engraved on the marble walls. In doing so, the Hall of Fame has requests for esthetic values and I need a few extra names to complete the final line. Usually the names come from officers killed in the new year we're currently in. We'll, this name came up in my extra,s list from Napa Co. CA. I'm from Sonoma Co. CA. and my brother Lt. John Snetsinger SRPD (ret.) Knows all the other cops in the area and would have been aware of this death. I called and he had no idea about this. Odd I thought! So I investigated the death back to 1980! Oh wow! He was missed!! I am preparing the mask which I apply to the memorial wall to engrave all of the names. This morning I picked the letters out revealing the name of RES. DEP. JAMES E. HEALY, NAPA CO., CA and I stopped for prayer! I decided to contact our local news paper The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, CA. with the details of his death and memorialization! I found your site and read about Dep. Healy's heroic death in service and decided to tell you what I'm up to today. This year marks my 20th anniversary as the engraver of the Hall of Fame. I have engraved every name in the memorial a total of deaths from 1960 through this year's deaths. I've felt many many tears over the years and my heart is stained from the stories of these brave men and women. Let's not forget any of these lives! I leave for Florida this weekend and expect to engrave next week. Dep. Healy's end of watch was May 25th 1980. His name will now rest on the wall with his brothers. Rest his Soul!

Michael Snetsinger
208 786-2428

Michael Snetsinger/Engraver
Tell Tale Signs

March 24, 2023

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