East Texas Police Academy Instructor Dies In Accident
By KENNETH DEAN Staff Writer
LONGVIEW -- Ask anyone who knew Les Ferguson what they remember most about the long-time instructor at the East Texas Police Academy and you will get a variety of stories.
But one thing everyone will agree on is that they will never forget his trademark quote, "It's a beautiful day."
Ferguson was traveling to work at Kilgore College's police academy Wednesday morning when a 2011 Lexus SUV hit the Harley Davidson he was riding.
Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Jean Dark said the SUV driver was traveling in the right lane and Ferguson was in the left lane as they traveled south on Texas Highway 31 at Loop 323 approaching Interstate 20.
Trooper Dark said the SUV driver decided to make a U-turn before reaching the I-20 intersection and hit Ferguson's motorcycle causing Ferguson to lose control.
"The accident remains under investigation at this time and the state reconstruction team is on scene recording all of the information so they can put it all together," she said.
Students in the East Texas Fire Academy, which is in the same building as the police academy, raised the flag and then lowered it to half staff and saluted in honor of the fallen instructor and peace officer.
Peace officers from across the nation were saddened by the news.
"He trained thousands of officers all over Texas. His funeral will be the largest in East Texas law enforcement history," Tim McLemee, a former investigator with the Van Zandt County District Attorney's Office, said Wednesday. "He was a great guy and many in law enforcement are in disbelief this morning."
Ferguson's Facebook page exploded with hundreds of prayers, thoughts and remembrances to the instructor so many loved.
"Fourteen years ago as I crossed the doors of East Texas Police Officers Academy, I met an awesome instructor a true friend. It breaks my heart to hear of such a loss to all law enforcement today. Gone but never forgotten. Prayers to all, who know you, and to those that will hear of you along the way. Rest in peace Les," Jackie Miers posted on Ferguson's Facebook page.
Kilgore College spokesman Chris Craddock said the death has greatly affected the students and instructors at the academy.
Craddock said chaplains and counselors were working with staff and students.
"It's a tough time tight now for them," he said.
Kilgore College President Bill Holda said in a statement, "The Kilgore College family is deeply saddened with the shocking news about the accident which caused the death of Les Ferguson. Les was a valuable instructor in the East Texas Police Academy and his untimely death is a tremendous loss for our institution."
Ferguson's Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education's record shows he worked as a peace officer for the Gregg County Sheriff's Office, Kilgore College Police Department, White Oak Police Department, Longview Police Department and the Lakeport Police Department.
"Tremendous loss for law enforcement in Texas. Les was a dedicated and wonderful officer and full time instructor for the East Texas LEA, and was a member of the Blue Knights. My heart and prayers go out to the family," Kim Vickers, executive director of Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, said in a statement Wednesday.
Ferguson was employed as an instructor since 1990 and was listed as a reserve officer for White Oak Police Department.
"It's a beautiful day. Those words will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Les. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You were a great instructor and person," another post on Ferguson's Facebook page said.
Students and instructors of the East Texas Fire Academy gather to honor Les Ferguson, an instructor at the East Texas Police Academy at Kilgore Junior College. He was killed this morning, June 27, 2012 when the motorcycle he was riding was involved in an accident with another vehicle. (Staff Photo By Kenneth Dean)