Accident claims life of Capt. William Hargraves

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Captain William "Willy" Hargraves died Friday, Aug. 19, as a result of a traffic accident at the junction of U.S. Highway 60 and Oklahoma Highway 18, in western Osage County, north of Fairfax and west of Pawhuska.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol sent out a message at 8:47 a.m. Aug. 19, saying that the eastbound portion of Highway 60 had been closed at 8:08 a.m. due to a fatality accident. Traffic was being diverted north onto Oklahoma Highway 18, the Patrol said. The roadway was eventually reopened at 1:13 p.m., more than five hours later.

Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden said Hargraves was thought to be on his way to work when a two-vehicle accident occurred. Hargraves was Captain over Patrol and Investigations for the Osage County Sheriff's Office, Virden said. Hargraves was also a fireman and served on the Shidler Board of Education. Virden said Hargraves was a career law-enforcement officer, whose mother had also been jail administrator and an investigator for the Osage County S.O.

"He was a phenomenal guy," Virden said. "I can't even begin to tell you how big a gap he's going to leave in our office."

The sheriff said Hargraves had recently been involved in planning security classes to be offered free of charge to school districts.

"It's just a sad, horrible, horrible, horrible deal no matter how you look at it," Virden said. "I would have never seen this coming."

According to a press release issued by the Sheriff's Office, Hargraves began his law enforcement career in 1998, when Russell Cottle, who was then the sheriff of Osage County, hired him to work as a jailer. Two years later, Hargraves was promoted to field deputy, and in 2003 he was promoted to K-9 handler and became involved in efforts to prevent drug abuse in the schools.

In 2006, Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch promoted Hargraves to Patrol Lieutenant, where he was responsible for supervising all of the patrol activities and conducting criminal investigations for the west area of Osage County.

In 2020, Sheriff Virden promoted him to Jail Lieutenant, where he supervised the everyday operations of the Osage County Detention Center and Transportation Division. After Capt. Charlie Cartwright retired in 2021, Hargraves was promoted to Jail Administrator/Captain. Hargraves became Captain for Investigations earlier this year.

Sheriff Virden on Saturday, Aug. 20 announced via text message that an escort was being planned for Sunday, Aug. 21, as Hargraves's body was moved from Tulsa to Trout Funeral Home in Ponca City.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. It will be updated as additional information is available.