DEMING, N.M. Oct 27 2016— New Mexico State Police are investigating a single vehicle motorcycle crash that claimed the life of a Luna County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant late Saturday evening, Oct. 22, 2016.
According to an initial NMSP report, at around 10 p.m., officers investigated a motorcycle crash on Pine Street and New Mexico Highway 549 (old Las Cruces Highway) in Deming. A motorcycle driven by Lt. Richard Cowles, 51, was traveling eastbound on Pine Street toward NM 549. Cowles failed to navigate a curve in the roadway and struck a curb in the median, causing the motorcycle to crash. Cowles was ejected and sustained fatal injuries from the crash.
He was transported by Emergency Medical Services to Mimbres Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Deming, where he was later pronounced deceased.
This crash remains under investigation.
There was an immediate outpouring of sympathy and sadness on social media for the passing of Cowles. He was a well-respected lawman in the community and active in the community. Cowles was a supporter of Deming High School Wildcat and Lady Cat athletics, an avid outdoorsman and was the driving force behind the Shop With a Cop program in Deming.
Ironically, the local law enforcement motorcycle clubs, Armaduras, Bonafied Saints and the Choir Boys were participating in a fundraising bike run to raise money for the SWAC program on Saturday.
Cowles was the front man for the SWAC program close to 20 years. His mother, Jenny Cowles, began the program in the 1980s with Carmen Baca. Both women were employees at Kmart in Deming. It started with a breakfast for 10 kids who each received a Christmas gift. Now it is expected to draw more than 400 come this holiday season.
Local law enforcement accompany children into the store for a shopping spree that was funded by business sponsors in the community, private donations and fundraising activities by law enforcement agencies in the area.
Each year, the Deming Public Schools puts together lists of students who are invited to the Shop With a Cop event. They line up outside the store and wait for Santa to arrive. Once Santa greets the children, they are ushered into the store, sit on Santa's lap and share their Christmas wishes.
Local law enforcement and children tour the store and the shopping fun begins.
Each child was given a $50 limit gift card in 2015.
"We raised over $15,000 for this year's event," Cowles said in a 2015 interview. "A big help this year were the three law enforcement motorcycle clubs that partnered and had a big bike run to benefit our program." The Choir Boys, Bonafide Saints and Armaduras are the three cycle clubs that were involved.
“Many of our local law enforcement officers spend a lot of their free time volunteering with motorcycle clubs. This year, we figured it would be a natural partnership to bring them on board for a positive addition to the cause.”
Facebook users were saddened by the news of the fatal accident. Many posted memorials to Cowles, photos and condolences to the family.