Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Son, MCSO Deputy Sean Pearce, Clocked at 81 MPH, Seconds Before Fatal Crash

MCSO Deputy Sean Pearce was clocked at 81 mph just seconds before a December 16 crash that killed Glendale resident John Edward Harding, 63.

Pearce was traveling north on North 59th Avenue a little after 1 p.m. in an unmarked black Chevy Tahoe when he collided with Harding's Nissan Cube, as it was turning south onto North 59th Avenue from West Hayward Avenue.

According to a report released Monday by the Glendale Police Department, the Tahoe's event data recorder (kind of a black box for automobiles) found the vehicle's maximum speed prior to the crash to be 81 mph.

Read the Glendale PD's report on the fatal, December 16 traffic accident.

Glendale PD spokesman Jay O'Neill said the 81 mph mark happened "within seconds of the actual impact."

The speed limit was posted at 40 mph. The Glendale PD's collision reconstruction estimated the Tahoe's speed "at impact" to be 48 to 53 mph.

The force of the crash was so great that both cars crossed several yards, across three or four lanes of traffic, ending up just off the road on the southbound side, where the Tahoe hit a sign on private property.

Pearce incurred only minor injuries. Harding was transported to a nearby hospital where he died. Harding left behind a wife and a son.

Though the Glendale PD's report does not have charging information, Jerry Cobb, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, told me that "the submitted charge is manslaughter."

Cobb said the MCAO will review the case and make the final charging decision.

Pearce and another deputy driving behind him said they were helping a homicide detective track a suspect when the accident occurred.

The suspect was "on 67th Avenue and a couple of miles ahead of them," according to Pearce's interview with a Glendale police officer after the crash.

The Tahoe and another MCSO vehicle, driven by Deputy David Parra, were "paralleling" the suspect's vehicle on 59th Avenue, as additional sheriff's detectives dogged the vehicle on 67th Avenue, Pearce said.

Seeing Harding's vehicle in front of him, Pearce locked up his brakes, hitting the side of the Nissan head-on.

Neither Pearce nor Parra's vehicle was equipped with sirens or flashing lights. Pearce told the GPD investigator that there was no time to honk his horn.

Pearce submitted to a blood draw, but the report states that no results have been received.

I asked O'Neill about this.

"We don't do in-house blood testing," the PIO told me. "We send our blood samples to the Department of Public Safety's lab for analysis and they haven't completed that yet."

I should note that there is nothing in the report to indicate that alcohol or illicit drug use is suspected of being a factor.

Pearce is the son of recalled, disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce, currently First Vice Chair of Arizona Republican Party.

The elder Pearce, an ardent nativist, has often referred to his son Sean in campaign speeches and during interviews.

That's because in 2004, Sean was shot in the abdomen by an illegal alien from Mexico.

At the time Sean Pearce was a member of the MCSO SWAT Team, which was attempting to serve a warrant on a suspect when a firefight ensued, wounding Pearce.

Note: the first version of this post stated that Sean Pearce was shot in 2010. That was incorrect. He was shot in 2004. Sorry for any confusion. You'd think by now I would have committed the history of the Pearce clan to memory.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons