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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.


Anonymous said...

msqWell, its a story that sounds good ,LOL!

A lot of people have died on that stretch, mostly from speeding, passing illegally and coming down form millerton lake drunk and or on drugs .I have a friend that is still alive, he was hit by car from behind while on his motorcycle back in the early 70's .He lost a leg on that accident .The person that hit him from behind was never caught as they drove on through .
As far as the story goes, he should fight the ticket,lol , if the officer doesn't show up in court, he doesn't have to pay the ticket !!!!

Anonymous said...

I've recently came upon this site, and is impress with your work. About this story of the phantom cop, I heard this many years ago, its been a talk in the hmong community for a while. I spent a good amount of years driving from Fresno to Friant everyday for work. I've never encountered the phantom cop, but have seen one weird moment that made my heart drop. It was about 4:30 in the morning, while driving home from TMC I saw a guy wearing all white gown (similar to Muslim outfit) on the other side of Friant rd walking north bound. Like I said my heart sinker and I blast up the radio and speeded home quick. So at the end, I do believe Friant rd is haunted, so I believe the phantom cop story might have some truth in it.

Anonymous said...

i don't know this road, i'm not from california but i too was pulled over by a ghost in california going south bound on i-5 north of reading, i was driving a semi and going a little over the crazy 55 mph truck limit and saw the lights off my trailer. i waited for 10 min but no officer came to my door. i got out and walked to the back of my trailer saw the lights still but no car. i looked everywhere they could be coming from but there was no car. when i got back to my truck the lights stopped

Unknown said...

This road i went before! he road is not hanted but it may have a thieses

Eden said...

Cherry West
I live in Friant and have lived in the area for 20+ years. Sadly, many people have died on the stretch of road known as Old Friant Road and Friant Road between Fresno and Table Mountain Casino. The lake, fishing, boating, camping, swimming and gambling draw people to the area. Recreational activities sometimes include alcohol and driving lending to the high numbers of fatal crashes on this stretch of road.
Without lighting furnished and maintained by the public works department because it is an outlying rural area, Friant Road is dark with low visibility. Before the road was widened into a four lane road from a two lane highway it was more treacherous but less traveled and Table Mountain Casino was not yet built. With the casino came more traffic. Although the road is widened with four lanes the lighting has not improved and the road is not maintained as often as it should be. The lines have faded and with low visibility, if you are not familiar with the turns and layout of the area it can be treacherous to navigate. People often speed miscalculating the road leading to accidents. Bicyclists and runners tend to frequent the highway because of the scenary, the long stretch and the level of the road yet there is no pedestrian or bicycle lane designated. Again, visibility lends to pedestrians and bicyblists being hit by cars frequently. There is an average one one accident per week currently. Most accidents on Friant Road are fatal unfortunately due to the speed limit and lack of pedestrian/bicycle path. A separate path for pedestrians and bicyclists needs to addressed that will span from Woodward Park to Lost Lake to reduce the deaths on Friant Road as it appears that the number of pedestrians and bicyclists and vehicles on this stretch of road are due to climb not decrease and therefore so will the death toll.
As for the phantom police officer I haven't heard this story and I am a legal researcher and newspaper reporter. I am currently researching the possibility and so far came up empty. My thought is that it is possible that a police officer in the area may be playing a prank on his fellow officers by using the old ticket book he may have come across somewhere. It wouldn't surprise me. Police officers often use humor to deal with the day to day stress load and frankly if that is the case, the officer is still doing his duty, getting his message across and creating a story to boot. What a way to get attention to the people about traveling safely on Friant Road right? Pretty creative and kind of fun too. I'll keep looking and guaranteed if I find something I'll be back to let you know.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in on Friant Road for 13 years I have never heard of the story of the phantom police officer . Unfortunately living on friant Road I have seen a lot of death a couple of whom were friends of mine . Most accidents are because of excessive speed and a lot of them are because people are speeding through the little town of Friant which deserves the respect of other people from the Fresno community . Hopefully the story has some people thinking that they should slow down enjoy the ride. And don't risk becoming one of the ghosts of Friant Road!?