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Off-duty police officer killed in rollover

An off-duty Powell police sergeant traveling with his family in southwest Montana was killed Wednesday when his truck and camper rolled over.

Sgt. Mike Chretien, 38, died after a crash around 1 p.m. near Cardwell, Mont., about 38 miles east of Butte. Montana Highway Patrol Capt. Gary Becker told the Montana Standard that the 2002 Ford pickup was traveling east on I-90 when the camper began to fishtail. The truck went into the median and both the truck and camper rolled.

Though the Highway Patrol did not immediately name who had died in the crash, Powell Police Chief Tim Feathers confirmed Thursday that it was Chretien.

Chretien's wife, Claudette, and three children survived. Feathers said the family members suffered bumps and bruises typical in a crash, but were spared more serious injuries as everyone in the vehicle was wearing seat belts. Becker told the Standard that speed appeared to be a factor in the crash.

Chretien had been with the police department for four years.

"Part of the police culture is we have a tendency to be pretty tight knit, it's kind of viewed as a family. Whenever you lose one, whether it's line of duty or off-duty, it's hard," Feathers said.

He said Chretien was on his way back from vacation.

"We were expecting him to be back at work at 6 o'clock this morning," Feathers said, adding, "Everybody's world's turned upside down. It's a shock."

While police have experience responding to crashes and tragedies, "it hits us just as hard as it hits anybody else."

Funeral services for Chretien have been scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12, at 10 a.m. at the Northwest College Cabre Gym and will be open to the community. A reception will follow at the Wyoming Army National Guard Armory.

A bank account to help Chretien's young family has been set up in Mike Chretien's name at Wells Fargo Bank in Powell. The family has asked donations be made to this fund in lieu of flowers.

Editor's note: This version of the story corrects which bank is handling donations for the Chretien family and adds when services will be held.

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30 comments

  • posted by Joe

    October 24, 2014 6:34 pm

    Thank you all im now 8 years old and I miss my father more than ever the stuffed animals helped me then and now I'm Joe Chretien Mikes son for 3 years we always send messages on balloons and I hope you will too.

  • posted by Theda Crawford

    May 15, 2012 5:06 pm

    I am so glad that they help. I only wish I was able to do more.You are a strong family and I know that he will will be in my family heart as well.

  • posted by Liberty Chretien

    February 13, 2012 9:34 pm

    Thank you all for the great words.Just to let you know the stuffed animals did help alot and thank you so much for helping me my sister and joe.we all still think of him.i miss my daddy alot.i wish he was still around so i could hug him but i know he is in my heart and always will be.god bless you all.

  • posted by jamie disney

    August 18, 2011 3:56 pm

    I just wanted give my condolences on the loss of your husband and father. I stopped to try and help your husband and your family. I just wanted you to know that he was not alone when he passed. I held his hand and tried taking a pulse. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Jamie Disney

  • posted by Susan Chretien

    August 14, 2011 2:26 pm

    We will never, ever be able to express the depth of our thanks to all of those who stopped to help our son and his family. Knowing that he was not alone in his final minutes on earth has given us great comfort. I now know that angels are not supernatural beings....they are here among us. God bless each and every one of you. Our family has been blessed by you and the wonderful community of Powell, Wy. Susan and George Chretien

  • posted by Deputy Mark Raymond

    August 09, 2011 9:57 pm

    Although I didn't get the chance to work with Mike, I've heard good things about him from others who did. I'm sorry his life and career were cut short in this accident. I lived in Powell for over 16 years so it's still feels like home to me. Mike's death is a terrible loss for his family, the Powell Police Department and the Powell community as a whole. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all in this difficult time.
    Deputy Mark Raymond
    Campbell County Sheriff's Department
    Gillette, WY

  • posted by Jill Steyee and Ross Balfour

    August 08, 2011 10:04 pm

    Thank you Theda and Phil for stopping. I can't get the picture out of my mind of you and I running towards the truck and helping the kids get out. Even though we were all complete strangers on that highway, we all pulled it together and did the best that we could for the Chretien family. You all are wonderful people, and may god bless and watch over you for the rest of your lives. My boyfriend Ross and I couldn't have done it without you Crawford's. Sean, your very welcome, I knew I had to do what I had to do in that little time. Word's can't explain how sorry I am for your loss. Take Care.

  • posted by Theda and Phil Crawford

    August 08, 2011 2:23 pm

    We are so sorry for your great loss.My husband,son and I were almost part of the accident and stopped immediately to help.Gabby,Libby and Joe showed so much courage. There were so many people that stopped to help.It is great to see how strangers can pull together and work as a team in a time of a crisis.We know we will never fully understand your loss but my husband and I have been profoundly affected by the accident and hug each other a little tighter each night.We hpoe the stuff animals and games that we left at the hospital gave some confort. Our thoughts and prayers are with you ever day.

  • posted by Sean Pierce

    August 08, 2011 11:36 am

    Jill, Thank you so much! As Mike's uncle, I cannot tell you how many times my wife and I have discussed what happened and what will be. I cannot convey what it means to us knowing you were there to help and comfort all of them. You did the job that so many of us wished we were there to do. Claudette and the kids have such a great support group between their family and friends. We all want to thank you for your wonderful comfort at such a difficult time. If you ever need anything, let us know and we will try to payback your kindness. God bless you.

  • posted by Jill Steyee

    August 08, 2011 1:18 am

    I was a witness to this accident and pulled Mike's three children out of the truck. I feel blessed that my boyfriend and I could be there to comfort the Chretien family and hold your two daughters in my arms. Everyone of you Chretien's made a huge impact on me that day. My prayers for you will remain in my heart for the rest of my life. There has not been a day when I don't wake up and your family is the first thing on my mind. Claudette, your love, strength and support for your family will help guide you through the days ahead. May god bless you Claudette, Gabby, Libby, Joe and the Chretien Family. I am honored to have been by your family's side. Please remember me if I could do anything for you, don't hesitate to tell if you need any help from my side. I am always willing to stand by you.

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