A 24-year-old Marin County Sheriff's deputy set to be married died Thursday after crashing on Highway 1 in the North Bay, according to the Marin County Sheriff's Office.
Deputy Sheriff Ryan Zirkle was responding to a 911 hang-up call around 12 a.m. when he apparently lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree just north of Point Reyes Station, according to Marin County Sheriff Bob Doyle and the California Highway Patrol.
It took first responders roughly 35 minutes to free Zirkle from his vehicle, Doyle said. Once he was extricated, he was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he later passed away.
"As you can imagine, today is a sad and difficult day for not only Ryan Zirkle's family but the men and women of the Marin County Sheriff's Office," Doyle said.
Zirkle was described as an "always happy" and "enthusiastic" person who "always had a smile on his face," according to Doyle. He grew up in Novato and graduated from San Marin High School.
"He wanted to serve his community that he grew up in," Doyle said.
Zirkle, who had been serving with the Marin County Sheriff's Office for about 2 1/2 years, was living in Petaluma before the crash. He had just purchased a house with his fiancée.
"This is a tough time," Doyle said. "This is a tough time for all of us. We're grieving."
Zirkle is survived by his mother, father, two older brothers and his fiancée. A memorial fund has been created for Zirkle's family, according to the CHP.
A memorial service for Zirkle is scheduled to take place on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael.
The conditions were clear, but the roadway was wet at the time of the crash, Doyle said. A CHP investigation is ongoing.
All lanes of Highway 1 in the area of the crash were closed until roughly 6:30 a.m. while officials conducted an investigation, according to the CHP.