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Police officer struck by vehicle, killed by man who admitted to texting while driving 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — An Arizona police officer was killed when he was struck by a vehicle authorities said was driven by a man who was texting while driving.

The crash happened on the Loop 101 Tuesday, Jan. 8.

According to Arizona Department of Public Safety, the officer stopped a vehicle on the Loop 101 around 6 p.m. While standing with that vehicle, the officer was hit by a passing vehicle, which then hit the vehicle the officer had stopped.

The driver who killed the officer admitted to authorities that he was texting while driving, according to a news release Wednesday morning.

The officer, later identified as Clayton Townsend, with the Salt River Police Department, was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead shortly after 6:30 p.m.

The crash and subsequent investigation blocked several lanes of the loop 101 northbound near McKellips Road.

In a briefing Tuesday night, Townsend was described by Salt River Police Chief Karl Auerbach as “one of the most dedicated, loyal, and committed officers” who left behind a wife and a 10-month-old child. He had been with the department for five years.

Tributes from other Arizona law enforcement agencies started shortly after news broke of the officer’s death.

Police identified the driver of the vehicle as 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead of Scottsdale. Sanstead was brought into custody on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and endangerment.

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