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9/11
New Hero Search Elmer Cecil Barnett III ("Barney") - Feb. 14, 1978 (270)

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Florida Highway Patrol Patch
Resided: FL, USA
Born: Jun. 09, 1947  
Fallen: Feb. 14, 1978
Race/Sex: Caucasian Male / 30 yrs. of age
Agency
Dept: Florida Highway Patrol
2900 Apalachee Parkway  
Tallahassee, FL   32399   USA
(850)617-2301
County: Leon
Dept. Type: State/Police
Hero's Rank: Trooper
Sworn Date: 5/1973
FBI Class: Traffic Accident
Weapon Class: Vehicle
Agency URL: Click Here
On The Job: 5 years
Bio: Elmer Cecil "Barney" Barnett was born on June 9, 1947, in the Panama Canal Zone on an American Army Base to Elmer Cecil Barnett, Jr. and Rose Cruz Barnett. His mother was from Spain. The couple has three children, James, Elmer, and Linda. Elmer's father died of malaria while in the Army when Elmer was two years old. He then lived with his grandmother in St. Louis until he was five when his mother and two siblings moved to Miami.

The three children attended schools in Miami with Elmer graduating from Palmetto H.S. in 1965. Elmer was always happiest when he was in the Everglades hunting. He loved the outdoors, fishing, etc.

After H.S. Elmer joined the Army and was stationed in Korea in 1968-1969. Upon discharge from the service, Elmer returned to Miami and began working full-time for Southern Bell and part-time at a gun store.

On Nov. 4, 1972, Elmer Barnett married Shirley Jacquelyn Hall. They met in Miami at the Town and Country Gun Shop where Elmer was working part-time. Jackie said it was "love at first sight." They dated for a year before marrying. Jackie had a 7-year-old daughter, Pamela, from a prior marriage. Jackey and Elmer later had two daughters, Shirley and Chandra.

Barney, at the time of his marriage, was working fulltime at Southern Bell and was also attending Miami-Dade Jr. College majoring in Criminal Justice. He was scheduled to graduate from Miami-Dade in the summer of 1978 (shortly after his death) and planned to enter FIU and major in criminal justice. Trooper Barnett need ed the college degree to get into ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). He loved being a FL trooper but believed that he could not support his family on a trooper's salary. In fact, Jackie worked as a toll taker on the 836 East/West Expressway by the Orange Bowl throughout their marriage as the family needed the extra income. She stopped working only briefly to have her two children. Often times, drivers would notice her pregnancy and tell her she should be at home having the baby. But she couldn't afford that luxury.

Elmer Barnett joined the FHP on May 3, 1973, and graduated from the 44th Recruit Class on Dec. 14, 1973. His wife later recalled that one day Barney came home from his day of patrol upset as he said he had "picked up body parts on the highway" and it reminded him of the combat action he saw in Korea. Barnett's wife was at home fixing lunch for the children and her husband when an FHP trooper, Pete Andrew, came to her house to tell her that her husband had been seriously injured. It was the day before Valentine's Day.

Even before the trooper said anything to Mrs. Barnett, 3-year-old Chandra ran up to him and asked, "Did my daddy die?" Ms. Barnett was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. (Later, Chandra refused to believe the news that her father was dead and for the rest of the day whenever another trooper came to the house she ran to the door and cried, "Daddy.") When the widow arrived at the hospital she could not get through the entrance to the emergency room because of the throng of reporters. As she waited in the car, Capt. Garris, came to her car and said, as he knelt on one knee with his hat in hand, "Jackie, he's gone." Jackie later said: I wanted so bad to see him. But as the Captain told me this, people were running towards the patrol car and I heard over the radio, "Get her out of here." I will never forget the look on Capt. Garris's face, having to tell me. I did not see Barney until the viewing. All I wanted to do was "see him." (Letter from Jackie Barnett)

Mrs. Barnett noted that the prior evening Barney and she had stayed up late and he had given her a beautiful sweater for Valentine's Day. The next morning Barney told her to stay in bed--not to get up and make breakfast. "It was still dark and he brought Shandra into bed with me. He kissed me goodbye and that was the last...," she said, her voice breaking and unable to finish the sentence. (Miami News, 2/24/1978)

Survived by:
Jacqueline Barnett - Wife

daughters Pamela, 12, Shirley, 2, and Chandra, 3; his mother, Rose; and a brother, James, a police officer in Plantation.

Fatal Incident Summary
Offender: Paul Jacobs
  
Location: FL   USA   Tue. Feb. 14, 1978
Summary: Elmer Barnett, 30, a five-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol, was hit and killed by a car as he stood on the right shoulder of State Road 836 talking with the driver of a car he had stopped. The driver of the vehicle which struck Trooper Barnett was convicted of careless driving and improperly changing lanes. His drivers' license was restricted and he was fined $500.

Trooper Barnett was headed home for lunch just before 11:00AM on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 1978, when he spotted an expired decal on the license plate of a brown Camaro on State Road 836, just west of the Tamiami Canal bridge. He turned on his blue flasher to signal the driver to pull over to the right shoulder. Barnett pulled over and stopped two car lengths in front of the Camaro about 1,000 feet west of the W. End Tamiami Canal Bridge (east of Red Road exit). Both were on the right shoulder of the three-lane westbound expressway.

The trooper walked back to the Camaro and asked for the license of the driver. Witnesses said that as he examined the license and an earlier expired tag ticket, he stood close to the Camaro and "squatted down" to talk through the car's low window. He was two feet from the Camaro and two feet from the white line dividing the right lane and the concrete shoulder of the emergency stopping lane. He had his back to the oncoming traffic. The blue light on the police car was still flashing, warning oncoming motorists to slow down and use caution. A new silver Cadillac driven by Miami attorney and businessman Paul Jacobs "veered off the roadway about two feet" (i.e., went two feet over the white line) and struck Barnett with the front fender of the Cadillac. Barnett was struck on his right side. His body was tossed to the hood of the Cadillac. Barnett cracked the front windshield, and landed about 70 feet from the impact---in the emergency lane." (Miami Herald, 531978) The impact knocked off one of Barnett's shoes. His service revolver was ripped out of its latched holster and flew into a ditch. His hat spun into the road. His black tie landed under his patrol car...(Miami Herald, 2151978) After striking the trooper, Jacobs veered to his left and hit a van which was in the center lane. The Cadillac continued to the left and hit the concrete wall separating the westbound and eastbound lanes. At this point Jacobs jumped out of the Cadillac and began to run toward Barnett but he had left his car in gear and it "rebounded" off the concrete wall on the left and traveled across all three lanes coming to rest on the right shoulder. When Jacobs saw the car rebound and continue moving, he chased it until it stopped.

The first person to reach the body of Barnett (lying on the right shoulder, 90 feet from the point of impact) was Morris Penrod, 37, a bus mechanic, who was a medic in the army. He had been driving in the right lane behind the Cadillac and saw Barnett's body thrown into the air and land further down the road in the emergency lane. Penrod then saw Jacobs chasing his Cadillac and positioned his car so that it slowed down the runaway Cadillac allowing Jacobs to catch it.

Penrod ran to Barnett and could not get a cartoid pulse. Believing the trooper to be near death, Penrod "gave him his last rites." He then ran to the police car and told the civilian trying to use the radio to alert police to call fire-rescue. Penrod then returned to Barnett and started CPR after taking having some difficulty taking off the trooper's bullet-proof vest. Penrod later said he thought the officer was dead but was hoping to "bring him back" by CPR. He remembers "a Spanish lady kneeling and hysterically praying" as he was performing CPR. "He was unconscious. I could feel no pulse. He was bleeding from the mouth. I rolled him on his back and took his jacket off, then I did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." Penrod quickly was joined by Lawrence McCoy, a terrazzo tile craftsman who once worked as a hospital orderly. He began massaging Barnett's heart. (Miami Herald, 2151978) Penrod and McCoy continued their efforts to revive Barnett until a physician arrived on the scene. Morris Penrod was later honored as employee of the month at his work site because of his Good Samaritan efforts. Penrod also helped in the search of the scene after the ambulance left and found Trooper Barnett's gun which had been dislodged from his holster when he was hit by the car.

Off-duty fire-rescue Capt. Dennis Cox was also in the traffic behind the accident and ran to the scene. He noted that the civilian who was trying to use the police radio was having trouble and he took it and called FHP (at 11:01AM) and told them the location and to send an ambulance. Within 12 minutes an ambulance arrived at the accident scene. The physician rode with the ambulance to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The ambulance arrived at JMH at 11:29AM. Efforts to revive Barnett failed and he was pronounced dead at 11:47AM. He died of "multiple injuries due to blunt trauma."

Disposition: Judge Koo convicted Jacobs of careless driving and improperly changing lanes and recommended a restricted drivers' license meaning that Jacobs would be allowed to drive for work, church and medical trips only. He was also fined $500.

Source: Book       Excerpted in part or in whole from Dr. Wilbanks book-

FORGOTTEN HEROES: POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN DADE COUNTY, FL, 1895-1995

by William Wilbanks

Louisville: Turner Publications

1996

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