They’re calling Nathan Daniel Taylor a special kind of California Highway Patrol officer, a model for what the agency strives to be.
We know about Taylor because he died on Sunday, sadly. A young woman lost control of her SUV and ran into him as he directed traffic away from an accident in icy conditions Saturday afternoon on Interstate 80 west of Donner Summit.
Fellow officers say he bought a sandwich for a guy he arrested and tire chains for stranded motorists. An ABC10 camera operator watched Taylor last Thursday night carry an 81-year-old woman from her car to safety after she had spun out on I-80 and fractured an ankle.
“That’s the way I’ll remember Nathan, walking down the shoulder, carrying the little old lady,” said Lt. Dave Jenkins, commander of the CHP’s Gold Run office, Taylor’s base. Taylor and Jenkins spoke the next day and Taylor didn’t mention it. It was part of the job.
Facebook posts on the CHP Gold Run page tell more. Biker Will Carter recalls being stranded in a storm and girding himself for tough questioning when the CHP car pulled up. The opposite took place.
“He offered a towel if we needed it to clear our lenses,” Carter writes. “He then explained how it was an incredible storm and he hates to see anyone stuck out in something like this. He told us that the trucks most likely couldn’t see us until it was too late and offered to follow us with his lights on until we were safely down the hill.
“I have had my share of interactions with the law. Most were negative and on rare occasions I was treated with a level of respect. But that night, Officer Taylor restored my faith that there are really good caring people who are cops.”
Paxton Brewer recounts that Taylor picked him up hitchhiking, and for the “next 45 minutes we talked, laughed and shared stories.” Taylor dropped Brewer off but not before giving Brewer his phone number and telling him to call if he didn’t get another lift. The young officer was prepared to drive Brewer home to Sacramento once his shift ended, though Brewer ended up getting a ride.
Brewer had thought about thanking him with a six-pack or dinner, but then read about Taylor’s death, and wrote that he wanted to repay Taylor by “inspiring others to be good.” By Tuesday afternoon, the Facebook post had been shared 47,000 times.
CHP officers do a job that is often taken for granted and riskier than many think. Taylor, 35, is survived by his wife, three sons, ages 3, 5 and 8, his parents, one sister and three brothers, one of whom is a Highway Patrol officer – and by a grateful state.