ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A police officer accompanying President Bush's motorcade was involved in a fatal motorcycle crash less than a year after an accident in Hawaii killed another officer accompanying the president.
Rio Rancho Officer Germaine Casey, 40, crashed at the Albuquerque airport at a point where a road enters an underground parking garage, said Trish Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Albuquerque Police Department. He was pronounced dead later Monday at an Albuquerque hospital.
Bush had been headed to the airport after attending a fundraiser for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
"Any time there is a presidential motorcade, the officers, that's part of their job, they drive at a high rate of speed," said Hoffman, whose department is investigating the crash.
Rio Rancho police department spokesman Officer John Francis said Casey's motorcycle hit a curb and then a tree, but investigators were reconstructing the accident to determine exactly what happened.
Photographers and reporters in the presidential motorcade said the officer's motorcycle appeared to be nearly destroyed, and the officer was on the ground, being helped by an emergency medical technician.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the president saw the wreck after it had occurred, and a member of the White House medical staff went to assist.
Bush called Casey's wife, Lisa, from his limousine on the way to the airport in Seattle to offer condolences, Stanzel said.
The president issued a statement saying he was saddened by Casey's death and extraordinarily grateful for his protection.
"It is a high calling to choose to serve and protect your fellow citizens, and I will always be indebted to Officer Casey's service," the president said, adding that the officer's wife and two teenage children were in his thoughts and prayers.
The officer had been with the Rio Rancho Police Department since 2005 and worked with campus police at the University of New Mexico before that, Hoffman said.
Francis said Casey had received special training in riding in motorcades and had previously escorted Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on separate occasions.
A Honolulu police officer, Steve Favela, died in November when he and two other motorcycle officers crashed while part of a presidential motorcade traveling across Hickam Air Force Base.