DPS trooper dies after being struck on I-35 in Temple

Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper, 63, was conducting a traffic stop on the south bound shoulder of Interstate 35 in Temple when he was hit by a driver in a pick-up truck on Nov. 4, 2017. (KETK)
Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper, 63, was conducting a traffic stop on the south bound shoulder of Interstate 35 in Temple when he was hit by a driver in a pick-up truck on Nov. 4, 2017. (KETK)

TEMPLE, Texas (KWKT/ KXAN) — A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper died Saturday after being struck by a pickup truck while conducting a traffic stop in Temple, Texas.

DPS said Senior Trooper Thomas Nipper, 63, was inside his vehicle conducting a traffic stop on the southbound shoulder of Interstate at about 3:05 p.m. Saturday when his patrol car was struck from behind by a driver in a Chevrolet pickup. The patrol car then caught on fire.

The trooper was transported to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Temple in serious condition but later died. The driver of the pickup truck was also taken to the hospital.

“It is with heavy heart that we must notify our fellow Texans that State Trooper Thomas Nipper died in the line of duty today,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Today Texas and our DPS family lost one of our finest. Trooper Nipper was a hard-working and selfless man, who proudly served and protected the people of this state. His commitment to duty and his sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time.”

A third vehicle was involved in the crash.

DPS said only one lane of a southbound access road was open with emergency vehicles blocking the other lane. Traffic on the northbound side was slow and was backed up about 2 miles.

Nipper was commissioned as a trooper in January of 1983, and he was stationed in Temple. DPS said he is the 220th DPS officer to die in the line of duty since 1823.

He is survived by his wife and three children, DPS said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Texas Gov. Abbott also issued this statement:

Trooper Nipper was a dedicated member of Texas’ law enforcement community, and like his fellow officers, I am saddened to learn of his tragic death. The men and women who make the commitment to keeping us safe are every day heroes, and we should always remember the risks and sacrifices they make to serve their fellow Texans. Cecilia and I ask all Texans to join us in keeping Trooper Nipper, his family, and all those close to him in our thoughts and prayers. May God grant them peace and comfort during this difficult time.

In Texas, the Move Over law requires drivers to move out of the lane closest to the officer when possible or reduce their speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit if the driver must stay in that lane. On roadways with posted speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less, drivers must reduce their speed to 5 miles per hour. Violators can be fined up to $2,000.

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