In an eerie coincidence, the Placer County sheriff’s deputy slain Friday during a gun rampage died exactly 26 years after his father, a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, was killed in the line of duty.
Michael David Davis Sr., an investigator with Riverside, died Oct. 24, 1988, when his helicopter crashed into the mountains of western Imperial County while conducting an anti-drug smuggling operation, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
At the time, Michael David Davis Jr., 42, the Placer detective who died Friday, was 17 years old. He would have turned 43 on Wednesday. He was the first Placer County deputy killed in the line of duty since 1986, according to a memorial page on the Sheriff’s Office website.
The senior Davis had received several awards throughout his law enforcement career and had worked nine years for Riverside County before his death.
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On Oct. 24, 1988, the elder Davis was working with state and federal authorities when the California National Guard helicopter carrying him and other members of the operation crashed at 9:30 p.m. The aircraft was immediately consumed by fire, and no one survived, according to Riverside sheriff’s officials. The elder Davis was survived by his wife, five children and parents.
Rick Kothlow, a retired Riverside sheriff’s deputy, was close friends with him after they worked together in Palm Desert, and the pair made a pact to notify each other’s family if something were to happen.
The elder Davis replaced a deputy who called in sick at the last minute, Kothlow said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee on Saturday.
“What are the odds? That one is struck down by a helicopter crash and the other one shot to death,” Kothlow said.
Kothlow got word of the younger Davis’ death from a family member. He said he immediately recounted the time he went to notify the Davis family of the death 26 years ago.
“When we got to the door, Sandy just collapsed and started crying,” Kothlow said, referring to the elder Davis’ wife. “She knew immediately what had happened.”
Kothlow knocked on the window and the younger Davis opened the door.
“We talked to the kids separately,” Kothlow said. “He understood. As a kid, he was a real trouper. He went to school that day. I tried to get him out, but he wouldn’t leave.”
Kothlow said the Davis family has a history working in law enforcement, with multiple relatives serving in different agencies across the state. The younger Davis’ wife works for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office as an evidence technician, while his brother is a sergeant there.
“This family has just had a terrible amount of misfortune,” Kothlow said.
Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.