On Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010, shortly after 3 a.m., Deputy Collier and his ride-along, sheriff’s dispatcher Ryan Debellis, came upon a wrong-way driver headed eastbound in the westbound lanes of Highway 52 in Santee, Calif.

Due to his concern for the safety and welfare of the driving public, Deputy Collier advised dispatch and tried to overtake the wrong-way driver.  His patrol SUV was traveling in the auxiliary lane of the median when it struck a center median bridge abutment, rolled several hundred feet, and came to rest in a ravine.  It took a tremendous effort by our deputies and other first responders to get Ken and Ryan up from the ravine where they could be treated by emergency medical personnel.  Both were airlifted to local trauma centers.

Despite the valiant efforts of our deputies, officers from all over the county, emergency medical responders, and hospital personnel, Deputy Collier succumbed to his injuries.  Ryan Debellis is expected to make a full recovery.

Moments after the collision, the wrong-way driver was stopped driving the wrong way on Highway 52.  He was arrested by sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers between Mast Boulevard and Mission Gorge Road in Santee.  Charges include felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.

About Deputy Ken Collier

Kenneth James Collier was born June 4, 1970 in Portsmouth, Va.  In 1977, Collier and his family moved to San Diego.  He grew up in the Santee area and graduated from Santana High School in 1988.  He attended Grossmont College and San Diego State University with a major in Administration of Justice.

As a youth, Collier held jobs with Rebel Rents, SeaWorld, AMC Theater and Blockbuster.  While working at Rebel Rents near the sheriff's Santee Station, he became intrigued with a law enforcement career.  He would see the deputies coming and going from the station and would speak with them about a career in law enforcement. As a result, he decided to get into law enforcement.

Collier began his law enforcement career with the San Diego County Marshal’s Office in 1997.  He worked as a Field Service Officer and then became a Court Service Officer.  When the Sheriff's Department and Marshal's Office merged in 2000, he remained a Court Service Officer.  In August 2001, he was hired as a Detentions/Courts Deputy and continued his duties in the detention facilities,  Detention Training Unit, and Court Services Bureau.  In July 2006, he was hired as a Law Enforcement Deputy Sheriff and joined the Santee Station in September 2006.

Collier was described by his supervisors as "steadfast, dependable, and a people person".  He was honored and commended for his dedication and dependability by San Diego County Marshal Cary Klippert.  In July 2004, he received an Exemplary Performance Certificate for his contribution to the Performance Impact Team (PIT), which examined standards and training within the Court Service Bureau.

On his off days, Collier loved flying model airplanes and riding quads.  At one time, his life ambition was to be a surf bum and live under the Ocean Beach pier, which is a long way from being a deputy sheriff.

His future mother-in-law dubbed Collier as "Mr. Fix-it".  She had a special place in their house for “Kenny’s tools and his fix-it list”.  He was also known to host some great Halloween parties.  The theme for his last party was “Come As Your Favorite Penal Code” .

Deputy Collier is survived by his fiancÚ Karen Li, sister Nancy Robinson, and brother Lauren Collier.  He and Karen were planning to be married on June 4, 2010, his 40th birthday, in Kauai, Hawaii.  They have several animals including a cat named Zelda, dogs Guinness and Sierra (do you sense a beer theme?), and Moochie, a stray cat who only comes around to be fed.

Collier was a fun-loving individual who was well-liked and respected by his co-workers.  He enjoyed working for the Sheriff’s Department and was a true professional and friend.  He will be missed.

A memorial fund has been set up for the Collier Family. You may donate to the fund at any San Diego County Credit Union to the Kenneth J. Collier Memorial Fund.