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Sanford police officer dies during training

Posted July 6, 2011
Updated July 7, 2011

— A Sanford police officer died Tuesday during a training exercise, police said Wednesday.

Elieser Colonroche, 55, was taking part in a training demonstration at Central Carolina Community College that involved officers rappelling down the side of a four-story tower when he crashed into the tower on his descent and apparently hurt his arm.

Sanford Police Capt. David Smith said Colonroche's death is under investigation but that it appears something went wrong with his gear and that his death was accidental.

Other officers took him to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment, where physicians found extensive internal bleeding, police said. He died at the hospital.

"The rope just caught the wrong way and slammed him against the wall," Colonroche's son, Eli Colonroche Jr., said. "(Police) said he was OK on the ground, and then he didn't want to go to the hospital, but they forced him to go."

Colonroche, who was with the Sanford Police Department since 2002, spent 22 years as a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

Elieser Colonroche Sanford police officer dies during training

As a policeman, he was an asset to the Sanford community.

“He was a great officer, well liked by fellow co-workers and the public," Smith said. "He treated everyone with respect – everybody the same. You couldn’t ask for a better police officer. He will be greatly missed.”

He had rappelled down buildings numerous times and made more than 5,000 jumps during his Army career.

His family still does not understand what went wrong.

"I can't believe that one of the greatest men I've ever known was talking to me on the Fourth of July and was gone the next day," Eli Colonroche said.

Elieser Colonroche, a father of three, was a daredevil who loved skydiving, his son said.

"They tell me all the time that he's crazy and hard-headed sometimes, but that's who he was," Eli Colonroche said. "He was a man who didn't give into fear at all. He never gave up living through life. He always pushed himself to be better."

The family will receive friends Saturday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at Bridges-Cameron Funeral Home in Sanford. A graveside service will be July 12 at 10 a.m. at the Sandhill’s State Veteran’s Cemetery in Spring Lake.


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  • 5.0 Momma Jul 7, 2011

    silencedogood it is sad to me that you would choose such an inappropriate opportunity to express your sarcasm. However, thanks to the wonderful men and women of the military in our great nation you are entitled to say whatever you may, even though it is offensive to others. Eli was a wonderful man, a pleasure to work with, and a great friend to myself and many other people. May God touch your heart in such a way that you may also be that type of person, and that you would be more considerate of people and their families in the future during a time that is already difficult. Audrey Ivey

    Isaiah 12:2
    Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

  • 2BHonest Jul 7, 2011

    didisaythat - Amen. Thanks for putting your post out there.

  • michaelakirby Jul 7, 2011

    okay 1st i knew the man he was a awesome man i am so sorry to the family and 2nd silencedogood whos business is it to see his text you know the freak accident was ...just a freak accident..... duhh! It's hard seeing a wonderful man and a very well trained officer pass. And meanwhile you guys are argueing back and fourth. please just give the family your condolences
    and leave. THANK YOU!

  • horrorfan101 Jul 7, 2011

    Tragic event no doubt, but leaves one question....How could this have caused major internal bleeding unless there could have been an underlying issue, or perhaps a completely freak thing that happened just so. This doesn't make sense.

  • fideloco Jul 7, 2011

    "Sanford police officer dies during training" WRAL get it right, he did not die during training, he die at the hospital.

  • didisaythat Jul 7, 2011

    RIP Brother. The general public has no clue what men like you and the rest of the Law Enforcement and Military family is all about. The would hide in a corner crying until the bad people went away if put in the position that many officers and military are put into on a daily basis. The general public talk about their freedoms like they are Constitutional Lawyers. Without men like this and many others out there the sheep would be slaghtered by the wolves. Thank you for your service "sheepdog".

  • jsok123 Jul 6, 2011

    Condolences to the Family and Friends, sounds like he led a interesting and fearless life. At least he went with his boots on, very honorable it sounds like.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jul 6, 2011

    Gracious! What a shame!

    Praying for those who loved him. I'm sure he will be sorely missed by his colleagues as well.

  • mfarmer1 Jul 6, 2011

    I Did My Time Repelling In The Army, Never Heard Of This Freak Accident. I Wonder How Tall The Tower Was.

  • Just the facts mam Jul 6, 2011

    Very sad. Prayers to the family.