Driver in DPS collision charged with second-degree murder
Services Wednesday for Officer Huffman
Funeral services for Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Tim Huffman will be held in Yuma at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Yuma Civic Center .
The funeral procession will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday at Yuma Mortuary and proceed east on 16th Street to 4th Avenue then south on 4th Avenue until reaching the Big Curve. Once there the funeral procession will then travel south on the 4th Avenue extension to 32nd Street then west on 32nd Street to Avenue A and south on Avenue A to the civic center.
Donations to help Huffman’s family can be made to account 848234 at any branch of the Arizona Federal Credit Union that is affiliated with the Share Branch Network.
The tanker truck driver involved in a collision that killed a highway patrol officer last week on Interstate 8 was charged Tuesday with 19 felony offenses, including one count of second-degree murder.
Wellton Justice of the Peace Russ Jones also informed Jorge Espinoza during his arraignment in Wellton Justice Court that prosecutors were charging him with 13 additional counts of endangerment and five additional counts of criminal damage.
Espinoza, 33, is a resident of Yuma and is being represented by attorney Michael Donovan. He was arrested Friday at about 5:30 p.m. by detectives from the Arizona Department of Public Safety Vehicular Crimes Unit in connection with the death of DPS Officer Tim Huffman.
Huffman was killed when his patrol vehicle was struck by a truck reportedly driven by Espinoza at around 5:10 p.m. May 6 at milepost 40 on I-8. At the time of the crash, Huffman was inside his vehicle writing a report on an injury collision that he and two other DPS officers were investigating on eastbound I-8.
In addition to ordering that Espinoza’s bond remain at $200,000, Jones scheduled his preliminary hearing for 1:30 p.m. May 31. Espinoza was appearing out of custody having posted bail on Saturday.
Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney Roger Nelson attended the hearing on behalf of the Yuma County Attorney’s Office and asked the judge to impose two specific restrictions on Espinoza as part of his conditions of release, which Jones agreed to do.
Nelson’s first request was that Espinoza, who is employed as a truck driver, not be allowed to leave the state. The second request was that the court order Espinoza to surrender his passport, which he did.
Emergency medical personnel responding to the collision had asked officers to close one of the lanes to allow for the transport of the injured, and a DPS officer parked his patrol car, with emergency lights flashing, in that lane. Huffman then parked his patrol vehicle a few feet away on the shoulder and began his paperwork.
Moments later, an empty tanker truck driven by Espinoza approached the scene. Espinoza, who was traveling in the lane that was closed ahead, allegedly failed to change lanes despite the flashing lights and reported attempts by an officer to get his attention.
The tanker truck slammed into the DPS vehicle parked in the closed lane, which in turn struck Huffman’s vehicle, DPS reported. The force of the impact killed Huffman, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to DPS, the tanker also slammed into a pickup belonging to the fire department, which was pushed into an unoccupied DPS patrol vehicle. That patrol vehicle then struck the rear of another parked fire department truck.
At the time of the crash, Espinoza was traveling from Yuma to Phoenix. He was not injured in the crash.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.