Independence officer killed in freak accident while hunting

Officer James Lockard was hunting in northern Missouri on Saturday and was knocked off an ATV by a falling tree. He was transported by helicopter to a St. Joseph hospital and died the next day.

The Independence Police Department is mourning the loss of an officer who died after a freak accident in which a tree fell on him while he was riding his all-terrain vehicle during a weekend hunting trip.

Independence police say James Lockard was deer hunting in Gentry County in northwest Missouri on Saturday when the falling tree knocked him off the ATV. He was with his father and both were on an all-terrain vehicle riding toward a buck that they had just shot when strong winds apparently knocked the tree over.

He was transported by helicopter to a St. Joseph hospital and died Sunday afternoon.

Friends and co-workers lined a road Monday where a hearse taking his body to a funeral home paused outside police headquarters.

Lockard had been with the department since July 2008 and had served in the Patrol Division and on the Special Response Team. He was 34 years old.

He is survived by a wife, son and stepson.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Capt. Paul Thurman said the Independence Police Department is devastated by the loss of such a valued member of the department and the community.

"We are extremely upset and mourning the loss of such a valued employee," he said.

Donations for the family's expenses can be given to:

James Lockard Memorial Fundc/o Code One Credit UnionPO Box 270020Kansas City, MO 64127

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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