Sher­iff un­veils Me­mo­rial High­way at Suc­cess Lake

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE -

Sher­iff Mike Boudreaux un­veiled the Deputy Scott Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot James Chavez Me­mo­rial High­way Sun­day, Feb. 10, three years to the day af­ter the Sher­iff’s light sport air­craft, Sher­iff One, crashed on a hill­side near Lake Suc­cess.

The Me­mo­rial High­way hon­ors the fallen, Sher­iff Boudreaux said.

“The Deputy Scott Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot James Chavez Me­mo­rial High­way is one that I wish never ex­isted. Three years af­ter that tragic day, we all still mourn the loss of two very ded­i­cated and tal­ented men. It’s a re­minder of the dan­ger­ous job the men and women of the Tu­lare County Sher­iff’s Of­fice do day in and day out. Although this High­way ded­i­ca­tion doesn’t bring our he­roes back, it is a way for us to honor them and the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice they made,” he said.

Peo­ple came from across the coun­try to at­tend the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony which took place at Lake Suc­cess. A mo­ment of si­lence was ob­served at 4:15 p.m. at the time of the crash.

Two brand new signs mark the Me­mo­rial High­way on High­way 190 near Lake Suc­cess, lo­cated above and be­low the hill­side where the crash took place. The signs were in­stalled Fri­day and were cov­ered up un­til Sun­day.

The Bal­lan­tyne Chavez Me­mo­rial High­way oc­cu­pies the four-mile por­tion of State Route 190 be­tween its in­ter­sec­tion with Pleas­ant Oak Drive and just south of HQ Drive, be­tween mile­post 22.53 and mile­post 26.53.

In Septem­ber of 2017, Sergeant Javier Martinez, who serves as pres­i­dent of the Tu­lare County Deputy Sher­iff’s As­so­ci­a­tion, be­gan the process of getting a me­mo­rial high­way named in honor of Deputy Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot Chavez. He worked with As­sem­bly­man Devon Mathis to get it passed through the state and with KRC SAFETY Co., Inc. to have the signs made.

The cost for the project, es­ti­mated at $30,000, in­clud­ing the signs, in­stal­la­tion and per­mits, was do­nated by KRC SAFETY.

Sher­iff Boudreaux thanked

the Deputy Sher­iff’s As­so­ci­a­tion and As­sem­bly­man Devon Mathis for their hard work on this project, as well as KRC SAFETY for its gen­eros­ity.

Sher­iff’s avi­a­tion unit pro­motes pub­lic safety

On Feb. 10, 2016, Sher­iff One had just cleared the scene over­head af­ter as­sist­ing with the ar­rest of an armed sus­pect. It was a typ­i­cal as­sign­ment, one that Deputy Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot Chavez had helped with many times be­fore.

As Chavez flew Sher­iff One, Deputy Bal­lan­tyne used high-tech equip­ment to mon­i­tor sus­pects and help guide deputies on the ground, Sher­iff Boudreaux said.

Pre­vi­ously with Sher­iff One, Deputy Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot Chavez were able to lo­cate a lost 3-yearold child, an Alzheimer’s pa­tient, and spot fires and even in­ter­rupt bur­glar­ies in progress. They pro­vided good safety for Deputies on the ground in the pur­suit and ap­pre­hen­sion of crim­i­nals.

Deputy Bal­lan­tyne greatly en­joyed work­ing as a Tac­ti­cal Flight Of­fi­cer. As a sworn Deputy, he could be called to tes­tify in court and he knew the county well. He loved work­ing for the Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Sher­iff Boudreaux said.

“He loved wear­ing the badge,” he said. “This was his pas­sion.”

Deputy Bal­lan­tyne lived in Visalia most of his life. He is sur­vived by his mother, Jean Bal­lan­tyne; his brother, John Bal­lan­tyne and his wife, Stacy, and their two daugh­ters, Ash­ley and Hay­ley Bal­lan­tyne; his sis­ter, Mary Ben­son, and her hus­band, David; his sis­ter, Joann Cole­man, and her hus­band, Den­nis, and her daugh­ter, Shan­non Moore; and his Aunt Marylin and Un­cle Wil­liam Sil­veira, a re­tired Tu­lare County Su­pe­rior Court Judge, and their two chil­dren, Amy Sil­veira and Matthew Sil­veira and his wife, Les­lie.

Deputy Bal­lan­tyne was pre­ceded in death by his father, U.S. Army Lieu­tenant Colonel Stan­ley E. Bal­lan­tyne; and a nephew, Colton Moore. Loved to fly James Chavez had ex­ten­sive fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. As a civil­ian, he flew pri­vate air­craft and com­mer­cial air­craft.

As a U.S. Navy Of­fi­cer, he served as a Main­te­nance Of­fi­cer aboard the USS Abra­ham Lin­coln dur­ing a 1998 over­seas de­ploy­ment.

In 2005, he trans­ferred to the Army Na­tional Guard and be­came a Black­hawk he­li­copter pilot. Chavez flew many Black­hawk mis­sions and earned the Bronze Star Medal and Com­bat Ac­tion Badge dur­ing a de­ploy­ment to Iraq in 2010-2011.

In all, Chavez had more than 900 hours fly­ing the Black­hawk and re­ceived his 20-year ser­vice let­ter from the mil­i­tary in 2013. He con­tin­ued to serve ac­tively with the U.S. Army Re­serves, achiev­ing the rank of Ma­jor. He was in his last stage of achiev­ing the rank of Lieu­tenant Colonel.

Be­fore James Chavez was hired to fly Sher­iff One for the Tu­lare County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, he was a vol­un­teer for 13 years with the Tu­lare County Sher­iff’s Aero Squadron, a group of vol­un­teer pi­lots and ob­servers who as­sist with Search and Res­cue and other tasks re­quir­ing air­crafts. At the time of his death, he was the com­man­der of the Sher­iff’s Aero Squadron.

Pilot Chavez lived in Han­ford. He is sur­vived by his wife, Melissa “Missy” Chavez and their two chil­dren, Jayleen and Josiah. Their legacy lives on In 2016, the Sher­iff’s Of­fice was dev­as­tated by the crash of Sher­iff One and the loss of Deputy Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot Chavez. But with re­solve, the Sher­iff’s Of­fice has be­come stronger and even more com­mit­ted to the ser­vice and pro­tec­tion of the peo­ple of Tu­lare County through aerial sup­port.

In 2017, Sher­iff Boudreaux un­veiled two new Cessna air­planes which were paid for with in­sur­ance money from the plane crash and op­er­a­tional bud­get sav­ings. The two air­craft pro­vide safety to the men and women in uni­form on the ground and a safer com­mu­nity for Tu­lare County.

“The pop­u­la­tion of Tu­lare County has grown big enough that it de­mands the need for aerial sup­port for law en­force­ment and to in­crease the safety of our com­mu­ni­ties and to pro­tect our agri­cul­tural part­ners,” Sher­iff Boudreaux said.

The Sher­iff’s Cessna 206 air­craft is named Trib­ute in honor of the fallen, specif­i­cally Bal­lan­tyne and Chavez.

Trib­ute’s tail num­bers, 189JC, com­bine Deputy Bal­lan­tyne’s Badge No. 189 with Pilot Chavez’s ini­tials, JC.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF TCSO

Deputy Scott Bal­lan­tyne and Pilot James Chavez in front of the Sher­iff’s light sport air­craft, Sher­iff One. The two were killed when the plane crashed into a hill­side near Suc­cess Lake on Feb. 10, 2016. Tu­lare County Sher­iff Mike Boudreaux com­mem­o­rated a four mile stretch of SR 190 in a cer­e­mony at the lake Sun­day.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF TCSO

Deputy Scott Bal­lan­tyne (left) and Sher­iff's Pilot James Chavez were trag­i­cally killed Feb. 10, 2016 when the plane they were fly­ing, Sher­iff One, crashed into a hill­side near Lake Suc­cess.

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