Officer hit by lightning after Joplin tornado dies

Friday, June 3, 2011 | 4:48 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD — A Missouri police officer who was struck by lightning while helping with rescues after a massive tornado ripped through Joplin has died.

Riverside Police Chief Greg Mills says 31-year-old officer Jefferson "Jeff" Taylor died Friday at a Springfield hospital, where he had been a patient since he was struck by lightning May 23.

Mills says Taylor was the first Riverside officer to die in the line of duty. He was one of a dozen emergency responders from the Kansas City suburb to volunteer to go to Joplin after the storm that killed more than 130 people.

Mills says Taylor had successful skin graft surgery but was being treated for other complications when he died.

Taylor joined the Riverside department in 2005 and was its Officer of the Year in 2008.

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