Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Sergeant Travis H. Maki

Elko County Sheriff's Office, Nevada

End of Watch Saturday, November 29, 1997

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Sergeant Travis H. Maki

I have visited this and other similar websites numerous times over the last 23 years, checking in and reading reflections left by family and friends. As I stated in the reflection that I left 14 years ago, I did not know Travis, my one and only brief interaction with him was that night, mine was the last interaction he would have on this earth. He took the flares out of my hands that I was preparing to set out on that bridge, the weight of that has haunted me for years.

However, as I sit here now, older, longer in the tooth, I know that I must set the record straight, because what haunts me more than the survivors guilt that I carry, is when I read the reflections left by his family and friends. The questions that they clearly have about what happened that night, the uncertainty, the “what was he thinking?” I struggle with that because I know exactly what happened, I walked in his shoes, I retraced his final steps, and I was faced with a similar fateful decision. Travis was not confused, disoriented, or unaware, he was intentional the entire time, even before he arrived on scene.

Travis was there for me that night, I feel like I let him down all these years by not sharing this story. Other than this forum, I do not know how else to reach those that may benefit from it, I just pray that this brings healing and closure. This story is not about me, it is about Travis.

As I pointed out in my post 14 years ago, Sgt. Travis Maki and Deputy Jim Neff were set to meet for a prisoner relay near Halleck, this is approximately the halfway point between Wells and Elko. Deputy Neff and I had earlier responded to Montello, NV for a bar fight, that investigation led to an arrest of one of the participants. For those who do not know, the only detention facility is in Elko, so any arrestee would need to be transported all the way into Elko to be booked. Montello to Elko is a long drive, particularly when you have already worked a full shift, as was the case for Deputy Neff. I can only assume that the Elko Deputies were busy that night. I do not recall many Sergeants volunteering for this kind of duty, but as I would later find out, stepping up and volunteering for any assignment that needed getting done was certainly not beneath Sgt. Travis Maki.

At this point Deputy Neff was headed westbound to meet Sgt. Maki and I was headed home. My shift was over as well. I was just pulling into Wells, almost home, when I received a radio call of an injury traffic accident at the Deeth railroad overpass. This location is approximately 15-20 miles west of Wells, about a third of the way into Elko from Wells. Being the only State Trooper on duty in the area, I headed that way.

Although I was a State Trooper, my car radio had the ability to scan the channels of the other law enforcements agencies in the area. In a rural setting like North Eastern Elko County there was not much backup, so we looked out for each other. This is why a State Trooper was all the way out in Montello covering a Deputy at a bar fight. As I was getting close to the accident scene I heard “Sam 6” (Sgt. Maki) advise his dispatch that instead of meeting Neff at Halleck for the prisoner exchange, he would continue on up to the accident and meet with Neff there. This added another 15 miles or so to his drive and shortened Neff’s. I do not know why he made that decision; he certainly did not need to. As a State Trooper the accident was mine to deal with. However, I imagine Sgt. Maki could not take the thought of sitting idly by while just a few miles up the road an injured motorist needed help. Whatever his reasons, he made the decision to go to the accident scene to help where he could.

Sgt. Maki arrived on scene a few moments before I did, he met with the injured motorist and surveyed the scene. The ambulance, which came out of Wells was also on scene and was treating the passenger, thankfully they were not injured too seriously, a broken arm as I recall.

We are taught in the academy that one of the first things an officer must do upon arriving at the scene of a traffic accident is to step up traffic control. The purpose of this is too ensure safety of the crews on scene, this is usually accomplished by setting out flares or traffic cones well ahead of the accident scene with the goal of slowing oncoming traffic down.

I immediately got out of my car and went to my trunk to grab a handful of flares with the intention of setting up the traffic control. This is where my one and only interaction with Travis Maki occurred.

He approached me and suggested that I get started with the investigation, he quickly relayed that that there was an injured woman being treated inside the ambulance and suggested that I should meet with her. He told me that he would get the flares set up. As I look back now, I realize the very deliberate nature of our interaction. There was no idle chit chat or conversation. He, not me, knew the position we were in was incredibly dangerous. So being the man that he was, he took it upon himself to get out on that bridge to do what he could. He took the flares out of my hands and then he set off up onto the overpass, that was it.

At the time, being a rookie State Trooper, I simply had no idea how precarious of a position we were in. It was freezing cold that night and a layer of fog had set in. The temperature was so cold that the concrete surface of the highway overpass we were on was a solid sheet of ice. This is what caused the original accident that had brought us out there to begin with. The driver had lost control of the vehicle on the overpass when he hit the ice, the vehicle spun out and slammed into the concrete retaining wall, likely where the passenger’s arm was broken. The driver regained control of the vehicle and was able to bring it to a stop on the east side of the overpass. What made this situation so incredibly dangerous was that approaching vehicles traveling eastbound over the overpass, at speeds averaging 75mph , would get to the top of the overpass, see the accident scene and understandably hit their brakes in an attempt to slow down. The problem was that although the rest of the highway surface was dry, up on the overpass, it was ice. You can’t just slam on your brakes when you’re driving 75 mph on ice.

At this point the injured passenger was inside of the ambulance being treated. I grabbed my paperwork and jumped into the ambulance to meet with her to begin the investigation. I wasn’t in the ambulance very long, when the woman’s husband, who had been standing outside, flung the rear door of the ambulance open and said that a big rig that was traveling eastbound on the overpass had lost control on the ice and started to jack knife. The man said that the big rig driver had just barely recovered control of the semi- truck and trailer, the man said that the driver had narrowly avoided hitting all of us with the trailer. Having recovered, the driver continued down the road. To this day, I am sure that the unknown driver had no idea of the extent to what had just happened. Because there was no damage to the truck or trailer, the driver did not stop, and we were never able to locate him/her.

I am not sure why, probably my inexperience at the time, but it did not immediately occur to me what had just happened. I got out of the ambulance and noticed that Dep. Neff had arrived on scene. I glanced up on the bridge and saw that although a few flares had been set out, the traffic control was not complete. I wrongly assumed that since Neff had arrived, Sgt. Maki must have decided to divert and meet with him to complete the prisoner exchange. I grabbed a handful of flares and set out onto the overpass to complete the traffic control.

As I walked up onto the bridge, I started to realize how hazardous the situation was. This particular overpass crosses a section of Union Pacific railroad and spans approximately 1000’ from one end to the other. It rises from ground level to a height of about 65’ at its highest point. Due to the grade, a driver on one side cannot see what is out of view on the other side until they are at the very top of the bridge. This is where I was, and it was later determined that this was where Travis had gone over.

I had placed a few flares and was nearing this spot when a passenger car approached. Understandably the driver hit their brakes upon observing the accident scene. This caused the driver to lose control which resulted in the car starting to fish tail on the ice. I instinctively darted towards the cement retaining wall as I simply had nowhere else to go.

Thankfully, the driver regained control of their vehicle, they slowed and passed by with no further issues, however I now fully appreciated how dangerous this situation was. I realized at that moment if the car had come straight at me, I only had couple of options. I could try to jump out of the way of the car, I could leap over the side and hope for a soft landing, or I could swing over the side and try to hang onto the wall while the vehicle passed by. No matter what, the odds were not good that it would work out. I leaned over the side to see how far down it was to the bottom and as I leaned onto the wall my hands had slipped out, the concrete retaining wall was as icy as the road. Considering what my options were I quickly set out the rest of the flares so I could slow traffic and get off that spot. As I said before, I would later learn that this was the exact spot Travis went over.

I was now on the opposite side of the overpass from the original accident scene, all the flares were set up and traffic was starting to slow down as they approached. We had all been on scene now for a fair amount of time, so dispatch started checking in on us. I heard on my handheld radio Elko Dispatch call “Sam 6” for a security check, no answer. They called him a few more times, no answer. They then called “David 22” (Dep. Neff), he replied that he was Code 4, but he hadn’t seen “Sam 6” yet. This entire time I thought Neff and Sgt. Maki were together, I sprinted back across the bridge and met with Neff, I asked him where Sgt. Maki was, he replied, “I thought he was with you”. We split up and started searching, Sgt. Maki was later found at the bottom of the overpass, near the tracks. It was obvious he died instantly upon impact.

After that, everything was a blur, it seemed the whole world descended on the accident scene. My supervisor arrived and directed that I clear up the original accident, once that was finished, I left and headed north on US 93 to investigate another weather-related accident. It would be hours before I would get done. Once my shift ended, I went home, it was now daylight and I was exhausted. I went straight to bed.

The next day I spoke with an Elko Trooper who was tasked with completing the accident investigation related to Sgt. Maki’s death. He asked some basic questions about the original accident and my interactions with Sgt. Maki, the cause of death was ruled an accidental fall.

The accident investigation into Sgt. Maki’s death revealed that the tractor trailer had jack knifed and took up the entire bridge, it swung towards Travis in such a way that left no room to dodge it while remaining on the bridge. He had no choice, no options, he was faced with a split-second choice, jump, or try to hang onto the wall. My gut tells me that Travis tried to hang over the edge, that was my instinct when faced with a similar situation. The only problem was that the wall was covered in ice, there was no hanging on.

Everything about that brief encounter I had with him leads me to believe he knew exactly where he was, and he knew exactly what he was doing. He was not disorientated in the fog or unsure of his location. I believe in my heart that he had a split second, and he did what he could to try to survive.

I hope that this somehow helps, I sincerely apologize for not finding a way to get this story out sooner.

For me and my family Sgt. Travis Maki is a hero, were it not for him this Officer Down Memorial Page would bear a different name. And were it not for him, the two beautiful daughters I have had since this event would not be here. The youngest of the two’s middle name is Maki.

On the bracelet I wear with Sgt Travis Maki’s name is a verse from Scripture, Isaiah 6:8

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Sgt. Sean Jones
Reno Police Department

November 29, 2020

Thank you for your service and for helping to make America a safer place.

Deputy Brian Jones
Boulder County Sheriff's Office, CO

January 24, 2013

Travis,
although I have never met you ,your story and reading reflections have really touched my heart. You were one of the true american Hero's that touched a lot of peoples heart. Although Nevada does have a handful of legends; You Sir are the Law Enforcment Legend of Nevada, At least for this generation. I am proud to tell you Sir that my wife and I have named our son "Travis" who was born November 2005. He is now in 1st grade and talks about becoming a police officer when he grows up. I now know for sure that we chose the right name for him. I will keep you updated Sir, RIP brother.

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)

December 3, 2012

For our dear friend Travis...You are now and will forever be my ex-husband's best friend. Today is not any kind of anniversary but just a day among many that I think of you and know that you look down upon those you love. Thank you for your service and loyalty...I know you are in a place of peace with people you know and love and also those you have served with and that will always put peace in my heart and mind.

With love and affection forever,
Theda Miller

Teddi
Friend

September 13, 2012

Thank you Sir for your service and heroism everyday. You shall always be remembered. RIP

James Kotke
Civilian / Former Officer
WSF Park Police (Wi.)

July 9, 2012

This reflection is in response for Errica (Travis' niece).... Your Uncle Travis was amazing, and yes, he was a strong man. He was also incredibly loyal to his job, to his friends and to those he loved.Interestingly, he also loved killer whales, not only for their beauty, but because of their family loyalty. Although he was right-handed, he shot his gun left handed (and he was quick!). I'm sure you know that he loved the Dallas Cowboys and had an affinity for them since he was a little kid. His all-time favorite player for the Dallas Cowboys was Emmitt Smith. Travis cooked an amazing lasagna, which he learned how to make from his dear friend Vivian. His two best guy friends were Tim (from the military) and Mike (ECSD). He was incredibly patient and kind beyond anything you could imagine. Always supportive. One year during the christmas holiday he told me that he was always amazed by the recipients of "Shop With A Cop" because the kids would always want to buy for their family and not for themselves. And the Christmas before his accident, I had heard that he had used his own money to buy things for a little guy in the "shop with a cop program" because the little boy used his donation money to buy for his family instead of himself, and Travis wanted this kid to have gifts as well. A series on television that your uncle loved was called the "X-files". He absolutely never missed an episode. He drove a red Camaro IROC and his patrol car was a Ford Explorer (not that that's important). One thing I don't want to forget to tell you is that Travis was really proud of your dad for all the positive changes he made in his life. And Errica, he adored you. He thought you were the cutest kid ever. He also had a tremendous respect for your grandfather and truly loved him, as he did all of you. He was an excellent cop, Errica. So respected. His uniform was meticulously perfect-always if you can imagine. He would even go through his "troops', reports to correct any typos...he just felt that those kinds of things were important. Travis was 6'2" and incredibly handsome. Aside from being a strong individual, he also had a sensitive side that few people saw... And He loved with all his heart -- in all these years since his accident, he still remains the best human being I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He really was extraordinary......

M-M-M
Personal Relationship

April 11, 2012

My dear Uncle Travis. I only knew you for almost 5 years. My father and grandfather say you were an amazing and strong man. A loving son, brother, uncle and friend to all. We love you, and miss you. I wish I could have grown up with you around. I'll see you some day. R.I.P.

Errica Holsclaw
Niece

March 4, 2012

Travis,
I never had the honor of meeting you but I write this today to share my gratitude for the life I have with my husband. You remind us each day to take nothing for granted and never miss an opportunity to say I love you. We had our fourth child in June, her name is Charlotte Maki.
Thank you Travis and God bless you.

Jessica Jones
Wife of Officer Sean Jones

September 8, 2010

Your heroism and service is honored today, the twelth anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

I pray for solace for all those who love and miss you. Both the pain and the pride are forever.

Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
mother of fallen officer Larry Lasater

November 29, 2009

I never knew that this page was out on the web until looking for Officer Survival information. I am glad to see Travis here and remembered. Thanks to Sean Jones who now works in Reno for his reflection. Officer Jones was recently a Police Survivor. Stay safe, Sean. I too remember working the night that travis ended his shift. I was full of shock and yet very angry. I remember running south from Jackpot as fast as my car would take me. I and another Deputy were stopping every vehicle that was on the highway that night. Taking information and checking the vehicles for damage. We were told that night that he was forced off the bridge by a vehicle and may have been struck by it. We never found anything. To this day the vehicle on the pass with Travis was not located. It leaves you empty not knowing why your friend and fellow officer had to leave. We then returned hours later to the Substation and called every Deputy in Jackpot for a meeting at the office. There, we broke the news to them in person. What a horrible silence there was. I found it difficult to think about Travis in public because I would become involved and lock out the world. The service was heartbreaking. I pass by that very location more times then I can count each year and not once do I go by without thinking about my friend and wondering what actually happened or what he was thinking. Travis will not be forgotten. His name comes up alot and his plaque hangs prowdly in our front office. It's been going on 11 years now and still seems only last fall. Take care my brother and I will see you again when God says it's time.

Sean Murphy
Elko County Sheriff's Office

Deputy Sean Murphy
Elko County Sheriff's Office/ Friend

June 23, 2008

"The Badge"

He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.

He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.

Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.

He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.

His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.

He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.

And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.

But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.

Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.

Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.

So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.

In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.

Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.

Written By:
David L. Bell
Sergeant
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC

December 11, 2007

On the 10th anniversary of Sergeant Maki's death, we honored his service in our patrol briefing by reading his entry from ODMP. Each day, we honor one fallen officer on the anniversary of their death so as to keep them in our thoughts, and also to remind us of the dangers inherent in our job. Sergeant Maki is not forgotten.

Agent Zach Perron
Palo Alto (CA) Police Department

November 29, 2007

rest in peace hero

vandenberghe
nh

November 29, 2007

You are remembered today and thank you Sir for your service

Pat Van Den Berghe, Manchester, NH
Neighbors for a Better Manchester, NH

November 29, 2007

We just learned of Sergeant Maki's death. Want you to know that our prayers go out to his family. He was a true hero and will never be forgotten. May God bless his family and his fellow officers.

Lyndell and Elizabeth Taylor (Amarill,Texas)
Parents of Deputy Sheriff
Morris Lyn Taylor (EOW 9-14-02)
Douglas County, Oregon
Roseburg, Oregon

January 8, 2007

I visited this site numerous times throughout the years, reflecting back on that night. I was the young rookie Trooper that Sgt. Maki helped out that night and the last one that saw him alive.
I think back to that night often, how I was standing at the trunk of my car, picking up a handful of flares, preparing to set up them up for traffic control, when he approached me.
Sgt. Maki was on prisoner relay from Elko, NV to meet with a Wells Deputy who had made a late night arrest. Sgt. Maki, as I recall, volunteered to meet with the Deputy so he didn't have to drive all the way to Elko to book the prisoner into jail.
The location where the two Deputies were supposed to meet was miles away from where this accident occurred and if the Sgt. would not have volunteered to continue on to the accident scene to help out, there’s no doubt that he would still be here today.
I never knew him prior to that night, my interaction was brief. It consisted of him taking the flares from me, telling me that he would set them out and he suggested that I start the accident investigation. What a decision. I know that Travis understood the hazardous situation that we were in and that he put himself on point, without hesitation.
No doubt, I have pondered what might have been if he did not show up that night. What other possible outcomes could have played out.
When I consider what he must have been like, as a cop, as a friend, as a man, I am left with the brief interaction that I had with him that night.
Here I am, a lowly tail light chaser, still wet behind the ears. This man, a Veteran officer, a Sergeant, he goes out of his way to help me when he didn’t have to. He did his duty above and beyond, with courage and he showed me respect when he didn’t have to. I thank him everyday for the sacrifice he made for me, knowingly or not. I hope that I am worthy of it.

Sean Jones

Reno Police Department

Sean Jones
Reno Police Department

December 1, 2006

G-d Bless.

November 29, 2006

I’m not sure what made me check this page today as it has been years since my last glance. I found myself reading the past couple of remarks left here and once again finding myself completely lost in raw emotion. Although all our lives have continued down a path we could have never anticipated, I know that each one of us who knew you are better because of you. I am well aware that your influences have propelled me over these years despite your absence. Through it all, you have not been forgotten.
I was watching Dancing With The Stars last night on television (which I typically never watch) and saw Emmit Smith featured as a favored choice of the voters. I thought…. Oh dear God, what you must be thinking of your favorite former running-back for the Dallas Cowboys, dancing “ballroom” on television. I bet I laughed for ten minutes.
When you love someone, I believe you take that with you everywhere you go and in everything you do. It’s not just a part of your day; it becomes something so strong that it remains in you forever no matter where the journey takes you. If there’s anything I have learned, it is this. You will never be forgotten. I will always miss you.
Mercedes

Mercedes
Personal Relationship

September 28, 2006

My Best Friend,
If time heals all wounds, then in a hundred years maybe this day will not hurt as much as it does now. I still look up and smile when the Cowboys win. I know I'll see you again someday, until then watch over your friends and family. We miss you.

Tim

MSG Tim Miller
US Army. Fort Benning

November 29, 2005

For Travis, he loved his job and every aspect of it. He held himself in such a way that it commanded repspect. Never leaving a stone unturned, and following through until the day's end was truly over, he was a guiding light for anyone who knew him. Today, and every day that light still burns brightly. We haven't forgotton him, nor will we ever..... "Sam 6", I miss you...



b28

Anonymous

May God continue to watch over your friends and family Travis. You are still not forgotten (5 years later) and never will be. You impacted people's lives in a profound way, even those that did not know you well. You have forever changed our lives and know that we think of you often, especially when on duty. It was an honor to know you and is a blessing to have you as a guardian angel watching over us.

Anonymous

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