The four-term Republican sheriff of Cochise County has died in a one-vehicle crash near the northern Arizona town of Williams. Larry Dever was 60.
His death is a stunning blow for people in his country and throughout Arizona.
The Coconino County Sheriff's office says Dever was driving on a dirt Forest Service road on the way to meet family members for a camping and hunting trip at White Horse Lake south of Williams when his pickup rolled.
Another driver had been following Dever's truck Tuesday evening and told deputies he came around a corner and found a cloud of dust. The pickup had rolled but landed on its wheels. Dever was dead at the scene.
Coconino County sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said it's not clear if Dever was wearing a seat belt, but he was not ejected. There was no sign Dever had been drinking.
Dever is a husband and father of 6, and grandfather to 12. He was known for most recently defending SB 1070, and criticizing the Obama administration for its handling of "Fast and Furious." He joined other county sheriffs in the fight for more border security.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told us, "He is not just a long time sheriff of Cochise County -- he's a friend -- and he is a leader among sheriffs... He and his wife were looking to do other things and do focus solely on their family. They're driven by their love for their children and grandchildren."
Speaker of the House Andy Tobin said Dever shunned the limelight and was a no-nonsense lawman.
"Sheriff Dever is going to be incredibly missed. I mean this is a kind of guy who came here when you needed him, he came here to do work. You know if someone got hurt in his county -- it bothered him. It meant something to him... and it's a big loss for Cochise County and Arizona."
It's been a terrible week for Dever's family. His 86-year-old mother passed away on Friday, and her funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Governor Jan Brewer ordered flags at half staff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Statement by Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl
"We were deeply saddened to learn about the sudden death of our friend Larry Dever. We spent a great deal of time at the border with Sheriff Dever and know first-hand his long commitment to keeping the people of our state safe. We also admired Sheriff Dever's strength to speak out when he believed more needed to be done to secure our border. Sheriff Dever was not only a leader in Cochise County, but also across Arizona and throughout the law enforcement community. Sheriff Dever was a man of honor, integrity, and selfless service to the State of Arizona. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy, their sons, and the rest of Dever family."
Statement by Jeff Flake
"Today Arizonans mourn the unexpected loss of Sheriff Larry Dever. Larry was a true leader among lawmen -- committed to the law, his community, and his state. We are grateful for Larry's quiet, effective leadership on border security and his desire to protect the residents of Cochise County and southern Arizona. Cheryl and I will miss his friendship. We offer our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Larry's wife Nancy and the entire Dever family."
Statement by Commander Jeffrey Self, on behalf of Customs and Border Protection
"The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection offer their most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever who died earlier today. Sheriff Dever was a dedicated law-enforcement professional who was passionate about the welfare of his constituents in Arizona. Sheriff Dever worked closely with CBP and other law-enforcement agencies in the region to ensure the safety and security of the border and of residents in southern Arizona. We offer our deepest sympathies."
Partial statement by Governor Jan Brewer
"I had known Sheriff Dever for well over a decade, stretching back to my days with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. I'll remember him in his cowboy hat – soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, but firm in his beliefs and steady in his service to the law. In the truest sense, Sheriff Dever was a Western lawman and country gentleman."
"Arizona has lost a leader of more than three decades in our law enforcement community. My thoughts and prayers today – and those of Arizonans, I am sure – are with his wife, Nancy, their children, friends and colleagues as they cope with this terrible loss."
Statement by Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan
"Sheriff Dever was a good friend of mine for 20 years. We spoke about several law enforcement issues just recently when he told me he was going hunting with family members. He was a dedicated career law enforcement professional. I will miss my good friend."
Statement by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu
"I'm shocked and saddened to hear of Larry Dever's death, he was my friend, a leader on border security and leader among Sheriffs. This is a great loss to Arizona, a true patriot has died and he will be sorely missed."