Georgia trooper killed in crash previously hailed a hero as Atlanta officer

Trooper Jimmy Cenescar was 28
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died Sunday from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jimmy Cenescar died Sunday from injuries sustained in a crash on I-85 in Gwinnett County.

After just a year on the job, a state trooper was killed in a crash while attempting a traffic stop, the Georgia Department of Public Safety said Monday.

But before he became a state trooper, Jimmy Cenescar had already been hailed a hero for his efforts saving a life as an Atlanta police officer.

Cenescar died Sunday in a crash in Gwinnett County, according to the DPS. He was 28.

“The Department of Public Safety sends its sincerest condolences and prayers to Trooper Jimmy Cenescar’s family and co-workers,” the agency said in a news release. “Please keep Trooper Cenescar’s family in your prayers as they cope with the loss of their loved one.”

Investigators believe Cenescar was attempting to stop a motorcycle for a traffic violation on I-85 North near Old Peachtree Road when his vehicle left the road and struck an embankment. Cenescar was taken to Northside Gwinnett Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Cenescar is the fifth officer to die in the line of duty across the country in 2024, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks law enforcement deaths. Of the five, two have been from Georgia.

Sunday night, Gov. Brian Kemp offered his condolences in a social media post. On Monday, Kemp followed up with additional comments.

Please read my statement on the passing of one of Georgia’s finest, Trooper Jimmy Cenescar.

Posted by Governor Brian Kemp on Monday, January 29, 2024

“All of Georgia is in mourning today for Trooper Jimmy Cenescar,” Kemp said. “As a young public safety officer, he was at the beginning of a life with years of experiences and opportunities that lay ahead and a career dedicated to protecting others. That service and commitment to duty inspires us all and makes this sudden loss all the more tragic.”

Cenescar had been employed with the DPS since January 2023 and was a graduate of the 114th trooper school, the agency said.

In October 2021, Cenescar saved the life of a motorist who crashed and drove off a bridge on Marietta Road and Thomas Street, Atlanta police said after the incident.

Cenescar was flagged down by a witness reporting a driver was still in a vehicle some 50 feet below the bridge. But a large, locked gate blocked a gravel driveway leading to the site of the wreck.

“I had to take action quickly to get that driver out of the vehicle because I knew under that bridge was a train track,” Cenescar said in a video released after the incident.

The officer got permission from a supervisor to push through the gate with his patrol vehicle, and that’s what he did to reach the injured driver.

“The incident was intense,” Cenescar said, “but during the times I was trying to ram through that gate, everything seemed like it was going in slow motion. I attempted to knock through the gate about three times, and on the third time I was successful.”

He joined APD in 2019 and spent about three years with the agency before joining the state patrol, according to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Atlanta City Council member Dustin Hillis posted a tribute to Cenescar on social media, thanking him for his service.

“As a @atlantaPolice Zone 1 Officer assigned to my beat just a couple years ago, I could tell then-Officer Cenescar was a dedicated and hard working patrolman, Hillis said. “I’d frequently see his name on crime and traffic stop reports, including arresting a murder suspect.”

Cenescar is survived by his parents and fiancée. Funeral arrangements were pending.

The trooper is the third Georgia law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty since late December.

On Dec. 29, Sgt. Marc McIntyre of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office was shot and killed while responding to a domestic call near Griffin. Then on Jan. 4, Deputy Eric Minix with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office died after being hit by an Alabama police officer’s patrol car as he stepped out of his own vehicle at the end of a chase, according to investigators.

In September 2022, a state patrol trooper cadet collapsed during training and later died after being rushed to the hospital, officials said. Patrick Dupree was a member of the state’s 113th trooper school.

In a previous incident, Georgia State trooper First Class Chadwick LeCroy was shot to death in December 2010.

On Dec. 27, 2010, Gregory Favors sped away from LeCroy during a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight and crashed his car near the intersection of Hightower Road and St. Paul Avenue in Atlanta. When LeCroy approached, Favors pulled out a gun and opened fire, fatally striking the trooper in the neck. The trooper was 38.

Favors was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.