Police Officer James David Ketchum

Police Officer James David Ketchum

Costa Mesa Police Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, March 10, 1987

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James David Ketchum

Police Officer Dave Ketchum and Police Officer John Libolt were killed when their helicopter was involved in a midair collision with the Newport Beach Police Department's helicopter while providing air support to a vehicle pursuit along MacArthur Boulevard.

The Costa Mesa's Hughes 500E helicopter's rotor blades sheered off, causing the aircraft to fall from the sky just south of the UC Irvine campus. Newport Beach's helicopter was able to make an emergency landing.

A civilian observer flying in the Costa Mesa helicopter was also killed. The driver of the fleeing vehicle was apprehended and charged with murder.


  • Age 39
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Aircraft accident

vehicle pursuit

Most Recent Reflection

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During National Police Memorial Week we remember the service and sacrifice of two police officers in the community in which my wife and I now live. It was 32 years ago when Officer James Ketchum and Officer John William Libolt were killed when their helicopter crashed with another police chopper during a pursuit of a suspected car thief. A civilian observer, Jeff Pollard, was also killed in the crash.

The guardians of our communities are working around the clock, on land, sea and in the air. They are the gatekeepers keeping their communities safe from those who would cause harm. Please remember these heroes during Police Week.

Chief (Ret.) Mark Spawn
Fulton (NY) Police Dept.

May 16, 2019

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