Two men, including a former police chief, were hit and killed in Arizona while tending to an injured dog in a roadway Sunday night.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said the incident happened around 7 p.m. after 47-year-old Nooraly Lalji struck a dog that was on the road near Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley, northeast of Phoenix.
Lalji reportedly turned around after the collision and got out to help the dog. The dog’s owner, 78-year-old John Wintersteen, rushed out of his nearby home to help as well.
While tending to the animal, Lalji and Wintersteen were struck by a Lexus RX. A Nissan Sentra then hit at least one of the men after they had already been struck, officials said.
Both men died from their injuries at the hospital.
The investigation is ongoing, but Arizona officials said they do not believe any type of impairment was a factor in the incident and both drivers remained at the scene. No criminal citations have been issued.
Scripps News Phoenix asked officials for an update on the condition of the dog but did not get a response.
Wintersteen was the former police chief of the Paradise Valley Police Department and was known for his passion for animals.
“Now if you knew John, one of the things he was famous for was picking up stray animals that have been hit, putting them in his Jeep, and taking them to an animal shelter to be taken care of,” said Ed Winkler, a former Paradise Valley mayor who worked alongside Wintersteen.
”John spent as much of his life directing traffic as he did directing people, so he understood the hazards and understood what was going on,” added Winkler.
Another former Paradise Valley mayor described Wintersteen as a “superlative example of a man, capable of accomplishing anything.”
The Vietnam veteran is survived by his wife, three kids and four grandkids.
The Paradise Valley Police Department shared the following statement:
"It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of our former Chief, Chief John Wintersteen, and another valued community member in a tragic traffic collision last night. Chief Wintersteen served our town honorably from 1995 to 2009, leaving a lasting impact on both the Police Department and the community. Even after his retirement, Chief Wintersteen continued to contribute selflessly to our community. His dedication was evident through his volunteer work as an Executive Board Member for the Boy Scouts of America and his roles as the Rotary Club Youth Services Vice Chair and Emerging Leaders Chair. Additionally, he played a crucial role in organizing our town's Martin Luther King Day events for over two decades. Chief Wintersteen's legacy is woven into the fabric of our department, and we will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and the families of all those affected by this heartbreaking incident. May he rest in peace, and may his contributions to Paradise Valley be remembered and celebrated."
This story was originally published by staff at Scripps News Phoenix.
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