A Montana police officer died on Saturday after he was run over by his own vehicle while trying to help a stranded motorist.
Jake Allmendinger, a deputy at the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, was killed while performing a welfare check on a driver who was reportedly stuck in Montana's Bridger Mountains.
The 31-year-old father of three was traveling through an icy storm with his partner, Deputy Ryan Jern, when the pair's Chevy Tahoe began sliding backward down a hill. Authorities said that's when Allmendinger exited the vehicle and became trapped underneath it.
Jern attempted to save his partner but was unable to stop Allmendinger from being crushed by the 5,300-pound car.
"It is with a heavy heart that the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office lets everyone know of the loss of one of our own last night," Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said during a press conference Sunday.
Gootkin described the moments before Allmendinger exited his car, telling reporters that Jern did not notice his partner leaving his seat.
"They were concerned because the vehicle was going backwards on the icy road — they don't know where they're headed — and Ryan was getting ready for impact and that's when he turned around and saw that Jake was gone," Gootkin said.
The sheriff refused to speculate as to why the officer left the vehicle, saying during the press conference that, "The only person who that knows is Jake [Allmendinger]."
Allmendinger was pronounced dead at approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday, five hours after responding to the stranded vehicle call. Gootkin noted that Jern had spent nearly an hour trying to save his partner before calling for help.
Gootkin called Allmendinger, who had been with the department since 2017, a "good, good guy," stating that the 31-year-old was liked by everyone who met him.
"He'll be missed, but people's faces light up when they're talking about him — that tells you everything."
On Monday, the sheriff's office was joined by 14 other law enforcement agencies — including the U.S. Forest Service and several local police departments — in escorting Allmendinger's body to a medical examiner's office.
“We haven’t left Jake’s side and we won’t. This escort is about showing our respect for one of our own who died in the line of duty,” Gootkin said of the gesture.