Caldwell police officers spent much of Tuesday trying to process the sudden loss of a longtime volunteer and friend.
Reserve Officer Jeff Irby, 49, of Middleton, died Monday after his pickup truck veered off Idaho 44 near Duff Lane and crashed into a partially filled canal around 10:30 p.m. He was off-duty at the time.
Fire and EMS responders reported Irby died at the scene and was not wearing a seat belt, according to a brief Canyon County Sheriff’s Office news release that included no information about what may have caused Irby’s Ford F250 to leave the road.
“We think he left the house to go get something at the store and then was headed back home,” Caldwell Police Capt. Frank Wyant said Tuesday. “The cause of the accident, we don’t know. We don’t know whether it was a medical situation or what.”
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The CPD’s patrol lieutenant and department chaplain went to Irby’s home late Monday to notify his family, Wyant said.
Irby, who had a wife and three teenage sons, had been one of the CPD’s most dedicated and reliable volunteers for more than a decade, Wyant said.
“He had his own landscaping business, but he wanted to be a reserve officer on the side,” he said.
Irby took a full-time patrol job with the department for about a year around 2010, Wyant said, then decided he wanted to go back to his landscaping business but continue to volunteer as a reserve.
“We ask (reserves) for 12 hours a month, and he would do that and then some,” he said. Irby commonly stepped up to fill vacancies — including a several-month stint in animal control — when the department was short-staffed, he said.
“He was one of those guys: Whenever we needed someone, we knew we could count on him,” Wyant said. “He was just a lighthearted guy; happy. It was always good to see him.”
News of Irby’s death hit the department hard, he said.
“As a police officer, you have to deal with things like this all the time, but this is close to home,” Wyant said. “This is ... family.”
“There are a lot of long faces and hurting here today.”