How one Georgia trooper aided a fallen brother in blue before his own death

Troopers Jimmy Cenesecar (left) and Chase Redner were both killed in the line of duty.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

Troopers Jimmy Cenesecar (left) and Chase Redner were both killed in the line of duty.

It has been nearly 47 years since the Georgia State Patrol lost two troopers within the same year. Just weeks into 2024, it happened again.

Trooper Jimmy Cenescar was killed in January when he crashed during a pursuit. Barely three weeks later, Trooper First Class Chase Redner was killed when he was hit by a vehicle as he investigated a deadly crash.

The back-to-back deaths devastated the troopers’ families and the law enforcement community. But the heroics of the two troopers will be remembered long after their deaths. One of Redner’s final investigations was the crash that killed Cenescar, according to the state patrol.

During Redner’s funeral earlier this week. Col. William “Billy” Hitchens spoke about Redner’s work on the case.

“He was recently assigned to one of the more important cases in our agency’s history,” Hitchens said. “Chase’s work helped us to identify, locate and arrest a person responsible. His detailed, meticulous work will help hold that person accountable during the prosecution portion of this case.”

On Jan. 28, a 21-year-old man on a motorcycle drove in excess of 140 mph while trying to get away from Cenescar on I-85 in Gwinnett County, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

Gerson Danilo Ayala Rodriguez, whom investigators said didn’t have a driver’s license or valid license plate on his motorcycle, never stopped after driving recklessly, even when Cenesar lost control of his patrol car and crashed, according to the state patrol.

But five days later, Rodriguez was arrested and charged with murder and vehicular homicide, according to the Department of Public Safety. The Norcross man faces several other charges, including fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, tampering with evidence, speeding and driving without a license.

At a preliminary hearing this week, Rodriguez’s case was bound over to superior court, according to John Melvin, chief assistant district attorney in the Gwinnett DA’s office. A bond hearing has been scheduled for March 18. Rodriguez will remain in the Gwinnett jail without bond.

Redner’s work helped build the case against Rodriguez.

After his death, mourners remembered Cenescar as a hero. He was working for the Atlanta Police Department in 2021 when a man flagged him down during one overnight shift. A red BMW had plunged off a northwest Atlanta bridge, and the driver was still inside as the car dangled over a segment of the Norfolk Southern-Inman railyard.

Cenescar pushed through the gate with his patrol vehicle so he could rescue the driver.

“It was a very chaotic scene. I just knew I had to get everything under control,” Cenescar said at the time. “My training kicked in and I just took action.”

Gov. Brian Kemp spoke at the funerals for both troopers. On Tuesday, Redner’s funeral was held in Canton.

“For the first time in decades, we’ve lost two state patrolmen in just a matter of weeks,” Kemp said. “We have grieved alongside the families and the loved ones of those we’ve lost. And we’ve certainly prayed with silent tears for God to comfort them during this difficult time.”

The state patrol has lost 29 troopers in its history. In 1977, two were also killed within weeks, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page that tracks law enforcement deaths.

On Feb. 3, 1977, Trooper Tyrone Dillard died from injuries sustained the previous day when he was struck by an automobile while working at a crash scene on Athens Highway in Gainesville. He was 33.

Then on May 7, 1977, Trooper William Andrews was killed in an automobile crash during a vehicle pursuit near Talbotton, in west central Georgia. Andrews was reaching for his microphone when he lost control of his patrol car and struck a tree. He was 32.

Georgia has last four officers in the line of duty out of the 21 killed across the country in 2024, according to the Officer Down website. All four have died in vehicle crashes or from being struck by a vehicle.

The funeral for Trooper Chase Redner was held Tuesday in Canton. Redner, 31, was killed while investigating a crash on Feb. 20 in Clayton County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

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Credit: Georgia Department of Public Safety

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. He was 31.

Then on Feb. 6, A Crawford County sheriff’s deputy died after being involved in a two-vehicle wreck while on duty. Timothy Tavarus Rivers, 40, was responding to assist another officer when his patrol vehicle crossed into the opposite travel lane on Marshall Mill Road, about 20 miles southwest of Macon, according to the Georgia State Patrol.