Local News

Durham officer charged in fatal crash in California

Posted September 12, 2012
Updated September 13, 2012

— A Durham police recruit was arrested last week in connection with a fatal crash in northern California.

Joshua P. Christensen, 26, of Raleigh, was charged with vehicular manslaughter. He was hired a year ago by the Durham Police Department and has been on military leave, city officials said.

The California Highway Patrol said Christensen's 2003 Dodge Ram pickup crossed the center line on State Highway 65 south of Wheatland, Calif., on Sept. 6 and collided with a 2008 Suzuki motorcycle.

The motorcyclist, Ralph Edward Watson, 55, of Culver City, Calif., was killed.

Wheatland is about 50 miles north of Sacramento, Calif.

Christensen is a reservist with the 940th Security Forces Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, which is north of Wheatland.

“The Durham Police Department is aware of the accident and arrest. It is being looked into by our Professional Standards Division, which is standard procedure,” department spokeswoman Kammie Michael said Wednesday.


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  • knowyourfacts Sep 14, 2012

    The Durham Police Department defines recruits as officers with LESS than 12-18 months of experience on the job. Christensen had just recently finished his training and was released to work on his own. Maybe if they used the termed rookie everyone would have better understood. It’s sad that the majority of the people who comment on the DPD issues are always looking for a way to bash them regardless of what happened. Here’s a suggestion… MOVE TO RALEIGH!!!

  • feelin41 Sep 12, 2012

    It states in the above that he is a recruit. I take that as meaning he was going through training and was called to duty.

  • thepeopleschamp Sep 12, 2012

    "Thepeopleschamp - So, tragically a man dies and whether or not this Christensen is officially a cop is what you concern yourself with?" Classified

    Actually, it's what WRAL concerned theirself with. He is a recruit, but the headline claims officer. Instead of reporting on the tragic death of the victim, the headline (by WRAL) puts the spotlight on bashing law enforcement in general.

  • dheepa630 Sep 12, 2012

    I'm confused. Was he an officer or a recruit?

  • bombayrunner Sep 12, 2012

    So if Durham officers are not drunk on duty crashing into citizens they are ....


  • Red Green Sep 12, 2012

    Thepeopleschamp - So, tragically a man dies and whether or not this Christensen is officially a cop is what you concern yourself with?

  • Gork Sep 12, 2012

    News: the Durham Police Department has a professional standards division...

  • bombayrunner Sep 12, 2012

    He was charged, so they think it was his fault for sure. Bet he was messing around with the radio or texting or something ... alcohol hasnt been ruled out.

  • feelin41 Sep 12, 2012

    First....it says NOTHING about alcohol being involved. Second....it doesnt say he hasnt been in Durham for a year. When will people learn to read instead of reading into something?

  • SueInNC Sep 12, 2012

    That's tragic for the 55 year old victim. When will people learn not to drink and drive? How many people have to die? It's just so not worth it.