John M. Blaser
Sgt. John M. Blaser, age 36
Sergeant John M. Blaser and Officer David Gabrielli were killed LOD (Line of Duty) when they were struck by a vehicle while investigating a one car drunk driving fatality. As they were standing in the median, a car driven by another drunk driver swerved across two traffic lanes and struck them. Officer Gabrielli died at the scene. Sgt. Blaser died while being transported to a Tucson-area hospital. He was the first Arizona DPS supervisor to die in the line of duty. Sergeant Blaser had served with the agency for 10 years. He was survived by his wife, Jan, parents, Bob and Jean Blaser, and brother, Jim.
John M. Blaser was born in Williamsport, PA, on February 4, 1954. His family moved to Palmyra, NY when John was a child. He graduated from Palmyra-Macedon High School in 1972; he was valedictorian of his Senior Class. He left soon after graduation for Arizona. He attended and graduated from Pima Community College, then the University of Arizona, graduating with Honors in 1979, with a BA in Public Administration.
John was hired by Arizona Department of Public Safety in 1981 and graduated from ALETA Class #70. His early duty stations were Wikieup and Kingman. In 1986, John was promoted to Sergeant and transferred to Winslow. In 1989, John transferred to Tucson and was assigned as Area 1 Patrol Sergeant. Upon his return to Tucson, he was planning to return to school at the U of A and obtain his Masters degree.
John was a loving husband, a loyal friend with a funny dry sense of humor and a strong work ethic. He loved living in Arizona and enjoyed fishing, hunting and riding and taking trips on his motorcycle.
In the last weeks of his life, John had taken on the assignment of Sobriety Checkpoint Supervisor. For weeks he planned a Sobriety Checkpoint to be held on Monday, September 3, 1990. Sadly, he was struck and killed by a DUI driver on August 31, Friday night, the first day of the Labor Day Week-end. Because of the tragic deaths of the two officers, the sobriety checkpoint was cancelled. John’s funeral and burial took place on Thursday, September 6, 1990. John will always be missed and never Forgotten!
The DUI driver, James B Sheets, had a BAC of .25. He was found guilty on July 18, 1991, of manslaughter and reckless endangerment by a Pima County Superior Court jury. In September 1991, a judge sentenced Sheets to serve 9-year sentences on each of the two manslaughter counts and three years for reckless endangerment. The sentences were to run consecutively. Sheets died May 21, 1997 of natural causes at the age 52.