DEPARTMENT:Texas Highway Patrol
END OF WATCH:Sunday, May 21, 1989
Sergeant Kuhnle and Trooper Ralph Zerda 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 Sgt. Kuhnle and Trooper Zerda 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. Sergeant Kuhnle had been with the agency for 11 years. He is survived by his wife, Diana; two daughters; and one son.
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