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Jefferson G "Jeff" Taylor
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Birth: Mar. 7, 1980
Clinton County
Missouri, USA
Death: Jun. 3, 2011
Greene County
Missouri, USA

Police officer with the Riverside Police Department. On May 23rd, he was participating in a search and rescue effort after the Joplin tornado when he was struck by lightning. He was 31 years old.

Statement & Photo by Riverside Police Department

Officer Jefferson "Jeff" Taylor, who was struck by lightning on Monday, May 23, while on tornado disaster response duty in Joplin, Mo., passed away in Springfield, Mo., today. He was 31 years old.

"Jeff Taylor volunteered to assist with the Joplin disaster recovery," said Greg Mills, Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety for the City of Riverside, Mo. "He was a highly dedicated officer and a devoted public servant, and we will always remember his sacrifice."

Officer Taylor is the first officer in the history of Riverside Police Department to die in the line of duty, and the first emergency disaster responder to pass away as a result of the May 22 Joplin tornado.

Taylor was part of Riverside's 12-member contingent of police officers, firefighters and public works staff members who responded to the Joplin tornado disaster. On the evening after the tornado, as a new line of storms moved through the Joplin area, Taylor had just returned to a command post when lightning struck the ground near where he was working.

Public Safety workers on the scene performed CPR and stabilized him for further treatment. He underwent successful skin graft surgery and was being treated for other complications when he died. Family members were at his side when he died at 9:25 a.m. on June 3, 2011, at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Mo.

"We are heartbroken," Chief Mills said. "Our department, our community and law enforcement as a whole have lost a dedicated professional doing what he did best helping those who were in need. The fragility of life gives way to the enduring spirit Jeff showed to us all. Our department will never be the same."

Kathy Rose, Mayor of Riverside, said: "We are saddened by the loss of our officer and loyal public servant. He died upholding a tradition of our community and many communities like ours to serve and protect, and to help neighbors in need. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Taylor joined the Riverside Police Department in 2005 and held the rank of Master Patrolman at the time of his death. He was named Officer of the Year in 2008.

Many in the community knew Taylor from his work with the department's K-9 Unit from 2007 through 2010. He previously was an officer with the Webb City, Mo., Police Department.

Information about survivors and services will be announced as soon as details are finalized.

Cards and messages are welcome:

Taylor Family
City of Riverside Police Department
2950 NW Vivion Road
Riverside, MO 64150.

In addition, an account has been established in honor of Officer Taylor to assist his family with expenses:

Taylor Benefit Account
K.C. Police Credit Union
2800 East 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64127


Jeff Taylor, 31, of Kansas City, Mo., died as a result of injuries sustained while assisting in the rescue efforts in Joplin, Mo. Born March 7, 1980, in Cameron, Mo., to Patricia (Steelman) Bestgen and Steve Taylor. Jeff graduated from Harrisonville High School in 1998 and attended Missouri Southern State University receiving his POST Certificate in 2001. He began his law enforcement career in Webb City, then served on Platte County Sheriff Department, before his current post with Riverside Department of Public Safety where he held the positions of Firefighter, SWAT, Master Patrol Officer, K9 Officer, and Field Training Officer. Jeff was nominated and awarded Officer of the Year from Riverside DPS in 2008. On Aug. 7, 1999, Jeff married his college sweetheart Kelly Hawkins in St. James, Mo. Jeff loved to golf, coached his sons soccer team, played softball with his friends from Riverside DPS, and always put his family first. Jeff was preceded in death by his sister, Jodi Lynn Gitthens; a niece, Trinty Faith Roberts; and a grandfather, Jefferson Steelman. Survivors include his wife, Kelly and sons, Caden and Cameron of KCMO; parents, Steve and Rose Taylor of New Bloomfield, Mo.; mother, Patricia Bestgen of Osborn, Mo.; sister, Staci Roberts of Overland Park, Kan.; two brothers, Zach and Nick Bestgen of Osborn; grandparents, Gerald and Phyllis Taylor of Cameron, Ernest and Phyllis Denny of Maysville, Mo., and Betty Jean Jacobsen of Roeland Park, Kan.; as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. A Celebration of Life service is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 8, at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, 1600 North 291 Hwy., Liberty, MO 64068. A visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church. Burial in Graceland Memorial Cemetery Cameron. Full police and fire honors will be given. Jeff continues to help others through his gift of organ donation. Fond memories and condolences for the family may be left at Arr.: D.W. Newcomer's Sons Floral Hills Chapel, (816) 353-1218. D.W. Newcomer's Sons Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, Crematories. Published in Kansas City Star on June 7, 2011

Graceland Memorial Cemetery
Clinton County
Missouri, USA
Maintained by: James Myers
Originally Created by: T.V.F.T.H.
Record added: Jun 03, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70795094
Jefferson G Jeff Taylor
Added by: Caryn Hood
Jefferson G Jeff Taylor
Added by: James Myers
Jefferson G Jeff Taylor
Added by: Carla McClasky
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