Lowell Police Chief Dies in Florida Hospital
After nearly a week on life support at a Florida hospital, Lowell Police Chief Joe Landers has died from injuries sustained in a weekend motorcycle accident.
The announcement was made Friday morning in a news conference with Mayor Eldon Long at the Lowell City Council Chambers. Landers passed away at 1:05 a.m. surrounded by his family.
“There will never be another individual like him,” Mayor Long said as he teared up in the conference. “We need to go through this grieving process together.”
Lowell Police Captain Randy Harvey is at FBI training but will take over as interim chief after five weeks of training. Until then, Lt. Tim Kuth will lead the Lowell PD, Mayor Long said. He said no process is in place yet to name a new chief permanently.
As of Friday morning, no memorial services have been announced by the family or planned by the city. However, Mayor Long said police and city officials will be available to attend any services organized.
U.S. Senator John Boozman also expressed his sympathies.
“I am saddened by the tragic news of the passing of Chief Landers,” he said in a statement. “Joe dedicated his life to public safety and his work made a great impact on the community of Lowell. He was well-respected by the citizens of Lowell and his presence will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Congressman Steve Womack also sent his thoughts and prayers to the Lowell community and Landers’ family through a statement.
“His impact on law enforcement and his community was felt throughout the region, and he was one of those people who made Northwest Arkansas such a special place,” Congressman Womack said.
Landers, 51, who was in Florida attending the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally in Panama City Beach as a spectator, was injured when a Toyota Camry driven by Jimmy John Christo, 52, of Panama City, pulled out in front of Landers’ motorcycle without signaling.
Landers was ejected from the motorcycle, over the hood of the car and suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis and broken arm among other injuries.
He had been on life support since Friday at Bay Medical Center in the Florida panhandle.
The car fled the scene after the accident, but authorities later arrested Christo, police say. Christo admitted to drinking an hour before the accident, according to investigators. He’s charged with felony possession of marijuana and other offenses, including fleeing the scene of an accident and other traffic violations.