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Tributes pour in for NHP trooper struck, killed by stolen car

Updated July 30, 2021 - 7:36 pm

Public tributes and condolences continued Friday for Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Micah May, who died Thursday after being struck by a car during a pursuit on Interstate 15 earlier in the week.

All along I-15 in Las Vegas on Friday morning, highway signs honored the fallen trooper as cars traveled underneath in both directions.

“Respect & Honor For Your Service Trooper Micah May — Nevada State Trooper Highway Patrol,” the signs read.

Highway Patrol spokesman Travis Smaka said two tributes to May’s life and his service to the state are in the works in Las Vegas.

In the coming days, the agency plans to park May’s patrol car at Police Memorial Park, 3250 Metro Academy Way in northwest Las Vegas, so the public can visit and pay respects. A candlelight vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the park.

“He was a great person and a great trooper,” said Smaka, who worked for three years with May on the graveyard shift patrolling the roads of Southern Nevada.

‘It really hits home’

May’s patrol car was on display Friday afternoon outside the Highway Patrol station in southwest Las Vegas, 4615 W. Sunset Road, with flowers donning the windshield and messages sprawled across the windows.

“You can still see his equipment inside, his paperwork. It makes it very real,” Smaka said. “We’re still reeling from when we lost Sgt. Ben Jenkins last year. That turned my stomach. … Now losing somebody who I personally knew, it’s so tough. Seeing the car he was working in when he went on that call, it really hits home to me.”

Jenkins, 47, was fatally shot in March 2020 near Ely after he pulled over to assist a driver.

May’s car was brought back inside around 4:30 p.m. Friday for fear of impending rain washing away the messages.

Smaka said May, a 46-year-old married father of two and 13-year veteran of the patrol, was a quiet, kind, giving man who never sought the spotlight despite winning many awards and recognitions from the Highway Patrol.

May was awarded the Medal of Valor by the agency in 2014 for courage demonstrated during a 2012 officer-involved shooting. He also was diligent in catching impaired drivers.

Smaka said May never wore the Medal of Valor on his uniform, demonstrating “just how humble he was.”

‘My heart is broken’

Wayne Dice, Southern Nevada liaison for the Nevada Police Union, said May’s family, friends and co-workers are devastated by his death at University Medical Center.

“It is a tough loss for the Highway Patrol,” Dice said. “Trooper May was a great trooper. He won many awards. It’s a huge loss for us. I feel for his family. I feel for his co-workers that have to go through something as tragic as this. My heart is broken.”

May was struck Tuesday while attempting to deploy “stop sticks” intended to puncture a stolen vehicle’s tires on I-15 near Sahara Avenue, according to the Highway Patrol. May was airlifted to University Medical Center in critical condition. He remained there until his death Thursday night.

The driver of the car that struck May was identified Thursday by the Clark County coroner’s office as Douglas Claiborne, 60.

Claiborne stole a car and led authorities on a chase through North Las Vegas and onto the freeway, the Highway Patrol said. After the stolen vehicle hit May, troopers managed to stop it, and Claiborne was fatally shot by law enforcement.

‘Unique sacrifice’

Tributes to May’s life were plentiful beginning Thursday night, shortly after news of his death broke.

“With heavy hearts, we confirm the loss of … Trooper Micah May #6203,” the Highway Patrol tweeted.

The Nye County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement: “Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and the entire Nye County Sheriff’s Office staff express condolences to the Nevada Highway Patrol and Trooper May’s family.”

The FBI in Las Vegas said it sends the “deepest sympathy to the family, friends and co-workers” of May.

Statements from the Las Vegas Fire Department and Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick were posted within minutes of the Highway Patrol’s announcement.

“Trooper May gave his life in service to the residents and visitors of Clark County and this state,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “His premature death is a tragic loss for his family and friends, his colleagues, and all of us who appreciate the important public safety work of the Nevada Highway Patrol.”

Nevada Department of Public Safety Director George Togliatti said in a statement: “Trooper May’s heroism exemplified the definition of a silent guardian. His dedication and service will never be forgotten. Our hearts go out to this grieving family and recognize the unique sacrifice to the State of Nevada. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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