Arizona legislator dies in apparent horse accident

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by Bob Christie, Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on August 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 5 at 5:56 AM

PHOENIX (AP) -- State Sen. Chester Crandell, a Republican from eastern Arizona who championed education, states' rights and rural issues, was found dead by family members Monday after taking a young horse for a ride, Navajo County sheriff's officials said.

Crandell, 68, took a "young colt" out for a one-hour ride Monday morning, Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark said in a statement. When he didn't return as scheduled, family members began a search along his planned route and found his body at about 2 p.m. on the DeSpain Ranch near Heber-Overgaard.

Crandell was either bucked off the horse or suffered some sort of medical issue, Chief Deputy Jim Molesa said. There was no sign of foul play, and the county medical examiner will determine a cause of death.

"This is a tragic loss for the family and friends of Senator Crandell," Clark said. "Chester was a good man and a strong voice for rural Arizona. I wish to express our deepest sympathy to his family. May God bless them at this time."

Gov. Jan Brewer ordered flags across the state lowered to half-staff from sunrise Tuesday morning though sunset on Aug. 11.

"I am deeply saddened today to learn of the tragic and sudden passing of State Senator Chester Crandell," Brewer said in a statement. "A fifth-generation native of Arizona, avid rancher, legislator and - above all - a gentleman with a tangible love for Arizona and those he served, Chester will be greatly missed."

Crandell had served in the Arizona Senate representing District 6 since January 2013 after two years of representing District 5 in the state House. He was chairman of the Senate public safety committee, vice chairman of the education committee and served on the appropriations, government and environment, and natural resources and rural affairs committees.

Senate President Andy Biggs said Crandell was exceptionally engaged in his legislative work and often beat him to the Capitol.

In the 2014 legislative session, Crandell sponsored a bill requiring federal agents to register with the local sheriff, show a warrant and hand over any fines they collected. Senate Bill 1093 failed after the Senate attorney determined it likely ran afoul of the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"He was a great lawmaker, he was passionate, he did his homework," Biggs said. "He worked hard. He loved his constituents, he loved his state, he loved rural Arizona."

Crandell was running unopposed in the Republican primary for re-election to represent District 6, and no Democrats were seeking the seat. An independent candidate, former state Sen. Tom O'Halleran, is on the November general election ballot.

Crandell was born in Holbrooke and raised in Heber, where he lived with his wife, Alice, and raised nine children. He had a bachelor's degree in agriculture education from the University of Arizona and master's degree in education leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Crandell was an educator for more than 30 years, including 10 years as superintendent of the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology in Snowflake.

The sheriff's office said funeral services were incomplete.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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HEBER, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities say a state legislator has died in an apparent horseback riding accident in eastern Arizona.

Navajo County Sheriff's officials say Sen. Chester Crandell was found dead Monday afternoon on the DeSpain Ranch near Heber-Overgaard.

They say Crandell left for a one-hour ride about 10 a.m. on a new colt.

When he didn't return as planned, family members searched the ranch grounds and his body was found around 2 p.m.

Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jim Molesa says it appears Crandell was bucked off the horse but the county medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Crandell, a Republican, had served in the Arizona Senate representing District 6 since January 2013 after two years of representing District 5 in the state House.

Governor Jan Brewer issued the following statement:

"I am deeply saddened today to learn of the tragic and sudden passing of State Senator Chester Crandell. A fifth-generation native of Arizona, avid rancher, legislator and - above all - a gentleman with a tangible love for Arizona and those he served, Chester will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers - along with those of the entire state - are with Chester's dear wife, Alice, and their family during this difficult time. In honor of Senator Crandell - and the service he gave to Arizona - I have ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff from sunrise tomorrow, August 5, 2014 until sunset August 11, 2014."      
 

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