Off-duty officer killed in collision

CONROE, TX It happened around 1:30am on Highway 105 near Wilson. Investigators tell us a Jeep was pulling out of a parking lot by a Taco Bell, when it collided with a motorcycle. That motorcycle was driven by Conroe Police Sergeant Gary Hardage.

Investigators say the impact caused the gas tank on the motorcycle to burst into flames. Hardage died from his injuries.

"Evidence on the scene indicates the motorcycle rider applied his brakes to try to avoid the crash," said Trooper Blum with the Conroe Highway Patrol. "He laid it down at one point. And the driver became separated from the motorcycle. He didn't survive the crash."

The driver of the Jeep was not hurt. The crash is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Conroe Police Department and Conroe Fire Department assisted DPS troopers in the initial investigation. The circumstances of the crash are still under investigation.

Sgt. Hardage's wife is also employed by the Conroe Police Department as a Communications Supervisor and was on-duty at the time of the accident. Sgt. Hardage is survived by his wife, three children, parents, and brother and sister.

Speaking for the City of Conroe, Mayor Webb Melder stated, "This is a tragic loss for our citizens, the Hardage family, and the Conroe Police Department. This is the third time this has happened. We are saddened by this loss. We lost a fine officer and the family lost a husband and father. It is just terrible. We ask that the Lord be with the family, the Conroe Police Department and the citizens during this time."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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