Monday, May 24, 2010
Trooper Ralph G. Zerda
Trooper Ralph George Zerda
Texas Department of Public Safety, TX
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
End of Watch: Sunday, May 21, 1989
Date of Incident: Sunday, May 21, 1989
Tour of Duty: 5 yr
Suspect Info: Ralph G. Mueller of NM, Sentenced to 10 years: released after 4 years.
Weapon Used: 18-wheeler; Alcohol involved
Buried: San Fernando Cemetery #2
Location of Name on National and Texas Monuments
NLEOMF: P13 - W19
TPOM: 21, C, 17
Trooper Zerda and Sergeant William Kuhnle were killed when a drunken truck driver, Ralph Mueller 51, crashed his tractor trailer into their parked patrol car just between 2:40 to 2:56 am. The Troopers were a part of the DWI Task Force and had parked on the shoulder after stopping another drunk driver, one mile inside Bexar County line, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 90 and Farm -to-Market Road 1604. They had made a DWI traffic arrest and had requested routine registration information, then requested a wrecker. A tractor trailer traveling westbound on U.S. 90 had veered off the road and struck the patrol unit from behind. Both Trooper Zerda and Sgt. Kuhnle were killed instantly as they were standing between their patrol nit and their suspects’ vehicle. Sgt. Kuhnle's body was thrown about 500 feet after impact. The suspect arrested by the Troopers was in the back seat of the patrol unit and only sustained minor injuries. Mueller was sentenced to two concurrent 10 year sentences in prison, but was released after serving only 4 years.
Trooper Zerda had been with the agency for five years. Trooper Zerda was survived by his wife and child.
Trooper Zerda's younger sister joined DPS after his death.----source San Antonio Light, San Antonio Express News, and ODMP