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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

suspected anything more.

suspected anything more. When they were just about to approach the front porch, I swung open the door. A thousand thoughts ricocheted around in my mind in a matter of milliseconds. First, I saw Cliff Elliott. He was one of Craig’s closest friends. I knew him well and, he was not smiling like usual. I honestly don’t remember who the third motor’s Officer was. Then I noticed Harold Elliott, the Chaplain, standing ahead of all of them. That is when those thousands of thoughts exploding in every direction vanished, solidifying into a lone horrifying realization. My voice was calmer than I’d intended it to be. “You are not supposed to be here,” I said, then attempted to close the door. Chappy stopped the door, but I tried to close it anyway. I was no longer rational. I was in flight, no fight to be found. Chappy was a big man—a slimmer, beardless version of Santa. He walked through the door with ease, and he reached out catching me and holding me still. I struggled against him, but he held onto me. I looked at him not seeing him—seeing nothing but a blurry fog and encroaching darkness. He said, “Danielle, he is dead.” I know I screamed out—I don’t know for how long. At some point, Cliff caught me. I guess I was falling to the ground. He wrapped his arms around me and took me to the nearest chair, my husband’s recliner—the smell of leather and the wind filled me. He rocked me while I murmured “he was just here… he was just here…he was just here…” I don’t remember what Cliff said. I only remember that he was crying as he held me. Sobbing and incoherent, I looked at Cliff, and I murmured, “Last night we found out we are having a baby.” Time folded in on itself doubling and tripling, moving ever so slowly. I barely noticed when they asked for my phone and who they needed to call. Tonia had arrived, taking me from Cliff, holding me, praying for me. It was much later that I learned that when the department had tried to contact me at work, they found the office closed. So, they called my boss and spoke to his wife, Barbie, to ask where I might be. Barbie called Tonia, and together they decided Tonia would try to find me. To this day, I do not know how Tonia was able to handle it the way she did. Little by little, my house began to fill with people I did not know. People were in my kitchen, finishing the dishes and making room for food. It wasn’t long before my aunt and uncle arrived from Wichita Falls followed shortly by my husband’s mother. If there had been any pieces of my heart still intact at that moment, they shattered into dust when I laid eyes on her. I ran to her and hugged her—she was Craig in the flesh and the only other bit of him I had besides my son. I told her I was sorry that I didn’t take better care of her son. I don’t know why I said that, but it was how I felt in my heart. The two of us stood broken for how long, I don’t know, in the small foyer of our home. I learned that at approximately 7:30 am on January 13th, 2010, my husband, Motors Officer Craig Story, Badge #2117, was killed in a collision with a school bus going Northbound on Cooper Street in Arlington, Texas. Craig had been working traffic in a school zone a few blocks south of the collision. A vehicle passed him, speeding into the school zone. Craig began a pursuit with lights and sirens. The vehicle cleared a small intersection before the light turned red. Having the vehicle in sight, Craig slowed through the halted traffic and increased his speed. A school bus driver carrying children was waiting in the center turning lane facing the Northbound traffic. The driver said he knew that his chance to go was to go when that light was red. However, Craig had already come through the intersection and was fast approaching. According to the bus driver’s statement, he’d seen the motorcycle coming, but he thought he could make it. The school bus turned left in an attempt to cross three lanes of traffic before the motorcycle reached him. Craig had nowhere to go. The lumbering bus just wasn’t fast enough, and the motorcycle’s momentum was probably impossible to slow much less stop. We know that he tried to lay the bike down to avoid a worse collision, but the damage was already done. The bike slammed into the bus. They told me that he didn’t suffer—that he died instantly. They also told me that the gas cap had been sheared off and caused a fire. Craig’s body caught fire, and a passerby saw the crash and stopped to offer aid—pulling Craig from the burning bike. I am forever thankful to him for his bravery. Those of us who suffer something like this know what I mean when I say so much happened or was said that I don’t remember. There are moments during the days until Craig’s funeral and in the first couple of years that followed that are branded on my soul. Those moments include the night of the funeral, where the motors unit brought Craig’s ashes to me at dusk and the things I said to Cliff and Scott Anderson, Craig’s FTO—helplessly worrying more for their hearts and souls than mine. The looks on their faces and what they said are precious to me, and I will never forget any of that moment. For I knew, I wasn’t the only one who would face the loss of Craig. There were so many beyond John Barrett, our son, his mother, our family… no, Craig would never be forgotten. He was a one-of-a-kind individual, funny, loyal, loving, and the best father I have ever known. In those early days, I know many came to visit me to offer kindness and condolences. There was one woman in particular who came to visit me, though, I wouldn’t come out to meet her at the time. Her name is Ashlee Hardy-Byers. Her husband was a motors officer who had been killed in a crash almost three years earlier. She didn’t come to my house for any other reason than to comfort me, but she later became the tow-chain that led me to down a path I will always be thankful for. I soon discovered that there was a group of people who’d 82 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 83

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