Deputy Sheriff Jimmie Richard Henry

Deputy Sheriff Jimmie Richard Henry

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California

End of Watch Friday, May 12, 1995

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Jimmie Richard Henry

Deputy Henry died of a disease contracted as the result of being exposed to burning jet fuel following a military plane crash on Santa Catalina Island. He and two other deputies were attempting to rescue the pilot. As a result of being exposed to the burning jet fuel, all three deputies developed pulmonary fibrosis which causes scar tissue to build up in the lungs.

Deputy Henry was forced to medically retire in 1984 as a result of developing the illness. He died 10 years later shortly after undergoing a lung transplant as a result of the illness.

Deputy Henry had served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for 18 years. He was survived by his wife and child.

Bio

  • Age 49
  • Tour 18 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Tuesday, June 19, 1984

accident scene

Most Recent Reflection

View all 22 Reflections

It was my absolute pleasure to work with Jimmy Henry and call him my friend. The events that led to his passing could have been avoided had the proper information been given to me the night of the F-18 crash.
I was the Team Leader that night and the first to climb down to the F-18 Jet wreckage. Enroute to the crash site, I was on the radio with my desk having them contact the Navy and confirm if there was any armament, explosives, nuclear or other contaminants we needed to be concerned with. The Navy responded no.
It was night time, the mountain was on fire so we could not deploy any rescue lines. I initially climbed down to the crash site alone and found the pilot, still in his undeployed ejection seat, deceased. The Navy took several hours to respond to the site.
As daylight came, Sheriff's Aero Bureau dispatched one of our T51 Sikorski Helicopters to the crash site with ESD personnel. The Navy requested we extract the Pilot. I extracted the Pilot from the ejection seat and later found their were explosive devices that could have detonated! Jimmy Henry who was a trained Mountain Rescue Climber came down to help me with the Helicopter extraction of the Pilot. The Sikorski hoovered over our position and we were enveloped in a 140mph rotor wash, swirling dust and debris around us as we placed the Pilot in the basket. After lifting the Pilot, We were then joined by another ESD Deputy who was lowered to our position.
It was still a couple of hours later before we were joined by the Navy who flew in from Pt Magu Naval Base.
The Navy personnel arrived in hazmat suits with masks, came up to us [Jimmy, ESD Dep and myself] immediately gave us masks, told us to put them on and do not kick up any surrounding dirt!!!!
Turns out we were exposed to different types of materials from the wreckage that the Navy never disclosed due to national security. We all started experiencing different levels of symptoms from the crash. I was an Ultra Distance Runner and had run a 40 mile mountain the day before. The day after the crash I ran 1 1/2 miles and was winded and walked home. Jimmy had the worst symptoms ultimately requiring a Lung Transplant and later succumbing from the exposure.
Had we been properly advised of the elements of danger at the crash site, Jimmy and I never would have put ourselves in a position to be completely engulfed in rotor wash extracting the Pilot and Jimmy's life would have played out differently.

Sergeant Robert S. Murcott
LASD/ Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

January 14, 2022

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