DALLAS COUNTY, Iowa - Four people were killed early Saturday, including two Des Moines police officers, following a fiery crash along Interstate 80 near Waukee.
The crash happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. near mile marker 117, according to WHO-DT.
Officers Susan Farrell, 30, and Carlos Puente-Morales, 34, were in an eastbound SUV transporting a prisoner from Council Bluffs to Des Moines when the crash happened.
The Iowa State Patrol said another vehicle driving the wrong way on the interstate struck the SUV head-on then burst into flames.
The prisoner being transported has been identified as Tosha Hyatt, 32, of Des Moines. The name of the driver of the second vehicle is not being released at this time.
During a Saturday morning press conference, Des Moines Police spokesperson Sergeant Paul Parizek said the crash scene was "the worst I've ever seen."
"This is a very sad day for the Des Moines Police Department . . . Words cannot describe the loss to our organization," Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert told the media. "We face a nightmare that no one ever wants to experience."
"Please keep the Des Moines Police Department and the families of the victims in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days. We will rally together as a family to get through this," Chief Wingert said.
Remembering the Officers
Parizek said the two officers had graduated from the Des Moines Police Academy in October of 2015 and were well-respected in the department.
"Respect in this organization isn't just handed out, you have to earn it. And both Carlos and Susan earned more than their fair share, starting out in the academy, then coming back out onto the street. And then performing at the level they did," Parizek said of the two officers.
Farrell worked for the Polk County Sheriff's Office for several years before joining the Des Moines Police Department."Her personality, it just - I don't have enough words to tell you how good of an individual she was, and how respected she was here at the jail," said Sergeant Brandon Bracelin with the Polk County Sheriff's Office. "And just walking around here today, you can tell how much she's already missed."
"You know, Susan was very well-respected, and she was just a person you could count on. When there was a serious situation, she was one of the first ones there. I worked side by side with Susan in the jail when we first moved out here in 2008 - on the response team - and there wasn't a situation where I wouldn't want Susan with me. She was that kind of person, and she will be missed," Bracelin said.