An Orange Beach man is facing a murder charge in the Aug. 22 death of a Mt. Vernon police officer.
Tyler Lee Henderson, 31, was driving his pickup truck ‘at excessive speed’ along Baldwin County Route 36 when it crossed Alabama Route 59 around 7 p.m. that evening and hit a car from police.
The cruiser’s driver, 50-year-old Mt. Vernon police officer Ivan Lopez, died in a “horrible collision” that authorities said caused an “explosion.”
Henderson was reportedly impaired and was arrested Thursday and taken to Baldwin County Jail where he remains without bond. A bail hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Related: Ivan Lopez: Tribute to deceased Mount Vernon police officer
Henderson was jailed for murder, first-degree assault, driving with a suspended license and violating an ignition interlock device.
His name and charges were revealed at a press conference at the Summerdale Police Department.
“We are in mourning,” Mt. Vernon Police Chief Duncan Harrington said. “We are going to cry and we also have 1,500 other citizens that we have to take care of and so we are going to do our job and cry together.”
Baldwin County Assistant District Attorney Teresa Heinz declined to say how fast Henderson was driving or how drunk he was.
Summerdale Police Chief Kevin Brock confirmed “alcohol was a contributing factor” to the crash.
Heinz also confirmed that Henderson had previously been arrested for drunk driving, but declined to provide further details.
The assault charge, she said, stems from injuries to a passenger in Henderson’s truck. The passenger, whose identity is unknown, was taken to a nearby hospital and was receiving treatment in its intensive care unit.
Heinz defended the timing of the investigation despite criticism from some television outlets in recent days suggesting it was taking too long to make an arrest.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and it will remain an ongoing investigation and what might seem to the public as an open and closed question is not,” she said.
“It’s not like what you see on TV. It’s not CSI or NCIS. It takes time to develop the facts so that we can find the right charges.
Lopez’s funeral was held on Saturday and he was described as “a loving husband, a great father” and a humanitarian. He had 20 years of service in the police.
Harrington said he was loved in Mt. Vernon, a small Mobile County community about 71 miles from Foley. Lopez, according to authorities, was on duty at the time of the accident and was traveling to his home in Foley at the end of his shift.
“He was a smiling face to the community, whether he was at a funeral or taking someone to the grocery store who couldn’t get there himself or feeding stray animals or ‘He takes care of anything or anyone,’ Harrington said, calling Lopez a ‘community-officer who also played dominoes with elderly residents.
The Summerdale Fire Department reported a second accident at the scene that night when a high-speed vehicle crashed while crews were working in the area. A driver flew to the vehicle by helicopter, but authorities did not discuss details of the separate incident on Thursday. No rescuers were injured.
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