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Friday, January 31, 2014

Does the spirit of a police officer haunt Friant Road?

It amazes me that after researching stories in the Fresno area that I am still discovering new ones. The fact that this story has been around for over 10 years and I have never heard of it until last Saturday night amazes me even more.

I was with a group of friends heading up towards Lost Lake Park to investigate the area. Unfortunately when we got to the park, it was already closed. Deciding we would come back when it was open later (it closes at 7:00 right now, but starting April 1 it closes at 10:00) we headed back down Friant towards Fresno. As we were driving back I brought up the fact that there were multiple traffic related deaths on the road and wondered if anyone could possibly haunt it. One of my friends asked me if I had ever heard of the police officer who died on the road and now haunts it, pulling over anyone who was speeding or driving dangerously. This was the first I heard of it and asked him how he had heard the story. He told me his dad had encountered the officer himself. This is what happened according to his dad:

His dad was driving down Friant late one night, speeding as the road had hardly any traffic. He took a turn when he saw the familiar red and blue lights of a patrol car flashing behind him. He pulled over and waited for the officer to approach him. When the officer got to the window he asked the driver if he knew how fast he was going and said that he should be more careful as there are always traffic accidents on that stretch of road and he could have been killed taking a turn too fast. But he was in a good mood and decided to write a “warning” ticket and let the driver go on his way. Confused as to what the ticket was for, he went to the station the next day to find out. When he showed the ticket to the officer at the front desk, the officer was surprised and asked him where he got it from as they haven’t used that particular one in years. He told them he was pulled over by a police officer and was given the ticket as a warning. They decided to check the badge number to see who had wrote it. When the officer looked it up, there was a look of shock on their face. That particular officer had died on Friant Road several years ago. It seemed even in death he was patrolling the road to make sure no one met the same fate he did.

I found the story interesting, particularly because their was a piece of actual evidence (my friend is trying to get in touch with his dad about the ticket). Curious as to if there was any credence to the story, I posted on Facebook the next day posing the question as to if Friant Road was haunted given all the accidents that have occurred over the years. So imagine my surprise when two separate people told me the almost exact same story. That a phantom police officer was pulling over people for driving too fast and issuing them a warning. When they would inquire about the officer they were told he died on that road. Just out of curiosity I contacted a friend who is a local police officer and he too had heard the story. Now we have a legend, someway, somehow this story was getting around. The question is whether there is any validity to it or not.

Researching deaths, I did find one officer died on Friant, but it was in 2011 and he was off duty. When I went back to Lost Lake on Monday to take some photos I noticed that there was an officer memorial sign as I passed Willow Ave. Could this be the name of the ghost? I was able to find the officers obituary and he did die in 2003, but not on Friant but near Fowler. Could these two stories have some merged into one? Don’t believe so as the first story I was told occurred before 2011.

So is there any truth to this story? As usual it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. This story has to have a genesis as all and somehow it grew bigger and bigger, having a life of its own. The best course of action right now is to research the road and see if any other officer died on it or if possible to get the ticket mentioned to me from the other night. But even I can’t find anything concrete, could there still be some truth to this story? Have people actually been pulled over on Friant Road late at night by a phantom police officer, one who is trying to prevent the same fate that occurred to him on that road years ago? It’s hard to say, but given what I've been told I wouldn't be surprised.