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California Highway Patrol officer killed on duty is a Minnesota native

Officer Kirk Griess spent his childhood in Minnesota.

A 19-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol who was killed by a distracted driver earlier this month grew up in Minnesota. 

Motorcycle Officer Kirk Griess, 46, died Aug. 10 when a truck struck him on the side of the road as he was making a traffic stop. The fatal accident happened on Interstate 80 in California, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. 

According to his obituary, Griess was born July 31, 1972 at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. He spent his childhood growing up in Detroit Lakes, where he fell in love with ice skating and hockey before moving to Wahpeton, North Dakota. 

Forum News Service reports that Griess was planning to retire in five years and was considering returning to Minnesota. 

The driver of the vehicle Griess had stopped was also killed in the crash. 

Sean Matthew Walker, 36, of Rocklin, California, was identified as the driver who caused the fatal crash, and he's been arrested on suspicion of two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and one count of reckless driving causing fatal injuries.

Captain Mark Headrick, the commander of the California High Patrol office that Griess worked for, held a press conference Aug. 15 saying Walker was distracted by his phone at the time of the crash, in addition to speeding. 

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"This is a preventable collision, something that could have been stopped," said Headrick. "We want the message to be sent that your actions have consequences, that answering a phone or sending or answering a text can result in the tragic consequences that we witnessed this last week, and that lives can be unalterably changed because of these actions."

Griess joined the United States Marine Corps. after graduating high school and later signed on to work with the California Highway Patrol in 1999. 

He is survived by his wife, four children, parents and three sisters. 

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