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Officer killed by helicopter blade praised

The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Republic

Friends are mourning the death of a Department of Public Safety officer from Mesa who died during a mountain rescue Monday in Sedona when he was hit by a helicopter blade.

A DPS helicopter team was called to Bear Mountain to rescue two stranded hikers about 4 p.m.

One of the hikers had gotten aboard the helicopter. DPS Air Rescue paramedic Bruce Harrolle, 36, of Mesa was escorting the second patient into the chopper when he was struck by a rotor blade.

The hikers were flown to safety.

Harrolle’s wife, Angela, declined to comment Tuesday when contacted at her Mesa home.

Vance Hummelgard, who had known Harrolle since they were 6 and was in the couple’s wedding, said he can’t believe he lost one of his best friends.

“I was just really kind of stunned,” Hummelgard said from his Wilmington, Ohio, home. “It’s like it’s not even real.

“Its taken some time for the reality of it to set in deeper that he actually is gone.

“I never expected to, at 36, be saying goodbye to my friend.”

As children, Harrolle and Hummelgard enjoyed soccer. Harrolle dreamed about becoming a firefighter.

“He was one of the few people who stuck with what they say they wanted to do as a child,” Hummelgard said. “He just loved helping people out. He had a great appreciation for all he had in life.”

Harrolle recently purchased an airplane and was hoping to begin flight lessons soon.

“He just liked the freedom to be up (in the air),” Hummelgard said. “If he wanted to take his kids somewhere for the weekend, he could do it on a whim and not worry about it.”

Most important to the nine-year DPS veteran was his wife and two children.

“He had a great life,” Hummelgard said of Harrolle, who was based out of Flagstaff.

Investigators from the department and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death.

The DPS Special Investigations Unit is also investigating, as are officials with the National Traffic Safety Board.

“This is a very trying and emotional time for the family, the friends of the officer, the DPS family, as well as the law enforcement and emergency medical community,” DPS officials said in a statement.

A DPS officer last died in the line of duty in March 2000.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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