I have been a Highway Patrol volunteer for over eighteen years. During my second or third year, we were requested to help out at a large air show on a summer weekend.
Another volunteer and I reported to the office very early on that Sunday morning and were ready to lend assistance to those who needed food, drinks or rest periods at the air show. We were supposed to team up with a specific officer, but he was reassigned to another detail before we left the office.
I really wanted to be with that officer because he was a dedicated, experienced officer who was motivated and cared about his job. When we returned to the office, we found out that it was a good thing we were not assigned to him.
During his shift, he received a call from his mother informing him that his father had fallen ill and would not let her call an ambulance. She did not know what to do. The officer immediately responded to his parents’ house and took his father to the hospital.
Unfortunately, his father suffered a cardiac arrest right there in the car. His son used every skill he knew, but his father could not be saved. It was very upsetting to all of us.
A few years later, this officer came off the road and began an assignment in the office. He stopped showing the spark he had displayed for so many years when he was a training officer and a runner in the Army marathon in Washington D.C.
Shortly after that, his wife woke up and noticed that he did not wake up their daughter for school and his car as still in the driveway. She then looked outside and saw a bunch of emergency vehicles in front of the park next to their home.
She ran to the scene only to find out that her husband, our officer, had taken his life. Many people said he never got over the loss of his father or his guilt for not being able to do more to help him.
His death came and went and we all grieved for him. His mother writes on his Legacy page every Christmas, every year on his birthday, and sometimes on the anniversary of his death. I will always miss him. -EW
The author, Brian Smith, served four years in the United States Marine Corps, and retired as an Assistant Chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield, CA. If you have a personal “Coptale” to share, please contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org