24-year-old Marin Co. deputy killed in crash identified

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The Marin County Sheriff's Department has identified 24 year-old Deputy Ryan Zirkle as the officer who died in a crash Wednesday. (Marin Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

The Marin County Sheriff's Department has identified 24-year-old Deputy Ryan Zirkle as the officer who died Wednesday night in a solo automobile crash on Highway 1 north of Point Reyes Station.

Sheriff Bob Doyle made the announcement at 1 p.m. in a room filled with reporters and, behind them, law enforcement officers standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Some had tears in their eyes.

Zirkle grew up in Novato. He leaves behind his parents and a fiancee.

The deputy died just after midnight along Highway 1, north of Point Reyes station, a sharp twist in the road where the deputy appears to have lost control of his car before crashing into a large tree.

CHP investigators looked for clues, trying to piece together what happened.

That portion of Highway 1 is twisty and dangerous, especially when wet. The deputy was traveling southbound after midnight when the accident occurred. There were no witnesses.

"If he was going southbound and the driver side hit it, that would be a rotating movement. A turning movement causing the vehicle to spin out of the way," said CHP Sgt. Ed Clark.

On Thursday morning, investigators from the California Highway Patrol inspected the scene and the large tree that Zirkle appears to have hit on the driver's side after apparently spinning out. First responders spent 35 minutes getting him out of the car.

RELATED: Marin County sheriff's deputy killed in accident on Hwy 1

He was airlifted to Petaluma Valley Hospital and when the undersheriff arrived, we were told they were unable to save him.

The deputy's 2011 Ford Crown Victoria had an onboard computer which can also provide black-box type data following a crash.

Zirkle was based in the substation of Point Reyes Station. In that small community, everyone knows everyone else.

"This is like a small town," one resident told ABC7. "We'll feel the loss. It's hardly impersonal out here."

Zirkle would have been 25 years old in less than two weeks.

The Marin County Sheriff's Department has not yet announced plans for a memorial.

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officer killedtraffic accidentcrashcar crashsheriffpolice officer killedtraffic fatalitiesPoint ReyesSan Anselmo
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