The St. Helens Police Association (SHPA) is more than an organization. It’s a brotherhood.
On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the SHPA announced on Facebook the closure of Oregon State Police (OSP) Trooper John Jeffries’ account after amassing more than $13,000 in donations to support Jeffries and his family.
“We would like to say how proud we are of this community,” they wrote in a post addressed to donors. “You guys have truly been and continue to be amazing. You have shown such great support for law enforcement in our community and it is as evident now, more than ever, that you support and take care of our law enforcement.”
Despite winding down donations, SHPA President Dylan Gaston spoke of the association’s pledge to support Jeffries going forward.
“We will continue to support Trooper Jeffries and his family in any way that we can as he continues his recovery,” Gaston said.
On Thursday, Nov. 11, OSP Troopers were involved in a police incident involving a fleeing suspect on Highway 30 at milepost 31 north of St. Helens.
Longview suspect John Thralls rammed his car into an OSP patrol vehicle, indirectly striking Jeffries, who was outside with assisting OSP Trooper Christopher Cowen deploying spike strips in an attempt to halt the suspect’s vehicle.
Jeffries sustained a life-threatening head injury, and paramedics transported him to Portland’s Emanuel Hospital in critical condition.
Thralls was taken into custody and booked, arraigned, and indicted at Columbia County Jail.
As of Tuesday, March 8, Thralls remains lodged at the Columbia County Jail at $5 million bail and faces three charges of Attempted Murder, one charge of Assault I, and one charge of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Police Officer(s) in a vehicle .
A pre-trial conference in the John Thralls case is set for March 16 at Columbia County Circuit Court. The Chronicle will follow developments in the Thralls case in future articles.
According to Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sheriff Brian Pixley’s affidavit, Jeffries warned Cowen of the suspect’s oncoming vehicle. Dashcam footage shows Cowen and Jeffries running behind Cowen’s OSP patrol car for cover. The defendants’ vehicle then struck Trooper Cowen’s patrol car “at a high rate of speed,” causing the car to be pushed back “at least 20 feet” and Jeffries “to be thrown into the air.”
In an interview after the incident with Hillsboro Police Detective Pat LaMonica, Cowen credited Jeffries for saving his life.
“Within days of the incident the association began brainstorming ideas how we could help Trooper Jeffries and his family,” Gaston said. “We concluded that raising money and letting the family use it as they see fit would be the most beneficial. Officer Bryan Cutright deserves a lot of credit, he spearheaded the project and set up a bank account specifically to gather donations for Trooper Jeffries.”
According to Gaston, the social media post attracted a lot of attention within a short amount of time.
“As soon as people saw our Facebook post and word got out that we were raising money, people were asking how and where they could donate,” he explained. “I don’t have any exact number of how many people donated as some of the donations were anonymous. That being said, it was so encouraging to see how many people were eager to help.”
The Chronicle asked OSP for an update on Jeffries’ condition. We received this response.
“The family has asked for OSP not (to) discuss Trooper Jeffries’ medical condition/status at this time.”
OSP issued a Nov. 17 press release with instructions to send well wishes to Jeffries and his family.
“Police officers share a bond that’s hard to describe,” Gaston said. “We know every day going to work that something tragic can happen to any one of us,” adding, “We really do consider ourselves a family.”
If you wish to send your well wishes to the Jeffries family, please do so via email at email@example.com or via mail to Oregon State Police, Attention Trooper John Jeffries, 3565 Trelstad Ave SE, Salem, Or. 97317.