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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
August 31, 2000

News Channel 4

Two suspects were running from Oklahoma City officer Jeff Rominger, 42 when they entered an exit ramp onto Interstate 40 from May Avenue. After traveling about a mile in the wrong direction down the interstate, the suspects’ vehicle clipped a flatbed tractor-trailer truck, and was struck head-on by an oncoming OHP trooper’s car. Oklahoma City police officials say it is still unclear exactly what happened, but apparently officer Rominger’s car was then struck by the trooper’s car, resulting in a fiery crash.

The trooper, identified as Matthew Evans, was not involved in the chase, according to Lt. Chris West, patrol spokesman. Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks told reporters during a news conference that Evans “was en route to assist another trooper on a potential drug stop.”

The two suspects were ejected from their car and were declared dead at the scene. Trooper Evans was also pronounced dead at the scene. After Oklahoma City firefighters extracted officer Rominger from his mangled and charred car, he was transported to University Hospital, where he later was pronounced dead. The driver of the truck was not injured.

Trooper Evans served only one year with the Highway Patrol, graduating from the patrol’s academy in August of 1999. He is survived by his wife. Oklahoma City Officer Jeffery Rominger is survived by his mother and an 8-year-old son.

Many across the state joined Oklahoma City police and OHP trooper in mourning the loss of the two law enforcement professionals. Oklahoma City officers wore black bands across their badges, and Oklahoma’s Governor Frank Keating ordered flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff. In a statement released Thursday morning, Governor Keating said, “Cathy and I join all of our Oklahoma neighbors and the outstanding men and women of the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in mourning the loss of Officer Jeff Rominger and Trooper Matt Evans.”

“We often times used the term ‘tragedy’ too loosely,” DPS Commissioner Bob Ricks said of the incident. “What occurred here today was truly a tragedy.”