2016-2018 Executive Board
Danielle Story-Stinson, Surviving Spouse 2010
On January 13th 2010, I found myself beginning a journey that I never ever expected to. Craig Story, my husband, tactical and motorcycle officer, was killed in an accident involving a school bus while pursuing a speeding vehicle in a school zone. He’d proudly been with Arlington Police Department for seven years. This being the case, of course, we’d had the “this is what you should do if…” conversation a few times. But as a “police wife” and in order to stay sane, I set that whole line of logic aside. When Chaplain Elliott stepped through my door that morning, I’d been blindsided to discover that only ninety minutes before, when
Craig pulled out of the garage, it would be the last time I’d see the one I’d shared my life with for the past twelve years.
It had been a typical morning and, fortunately, we’d said all of our “typical” things. He’d hugged and kissed both John Barrett and I and faithfully as always, we’d said our “I love you’s.” Then, the sound of his booted feet grew distant down the hall. To my surprise, he’d, for some reason, reappeared at the door, smiled, and repeated his “I love you.”
At the time, our oldest son John Barrett had just turned three and was the utter apple of his daddy’s eye. To Craig’s proud delight, he’d just gotten the news that we were expecting our second child the night before his death. We were blessed with a healthy Colton Craig exactly nine months later, September 13th, 2010.
I hadn’t learned until later that a pair of ladies had come to see me during those really dark days and I hadn’t been able to get out of bed—I hadn’t actually met them…then. You see, they’d come to me because they had come to possess a supernatural heart, one that can only be forged from suffering that same, incredible loss.
Fours years later, I let Ashlee Hardy convince me to go to the annual Spouse’s Retreat only to find out that my roommate was Amada Hurst. As fate would have it, these were the two precious ladies who’d come to my home to hold my hand bearing the unbelievable knowledge that I would survive—that there was hope. I am humbled and honored to serve and stand beside others like me, along with Metroplex C.O.P.S., doing what I can while reaping the benefits of friendships that will last a lifetime.
Officer Craig Story
Arlington Police Department
Kim Ellis, Surviving Adult Child
My perfect childhood as I knew it came to an end the day my dad suited up for work. At 1:30 am on November 4, 1990, Dallas Police Officer Sunny Ma Lov was struck and killed by a man driving a stolen vehicle. The driver of the stolen vehicle drove through a line of road flares and struck my dad, who was thrown 119 feet into the opposite lanes of traffic. He died at the scene. I lost my hero that day. I will never know how it feels to be “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
My dad was an American patriot and loved this country as his own. After surviving the killing fields of Cambodia, he came to the U.S. to live the “American Dream.” He worked hard for his family and loved them even harder. Our patriarch was gone and for a moment in time, we were lost. Growing up without a father was difficult. No one understood my pain until I met other survivors through COPS. My healing journey took place 4.5 years ago when I married a Fort Worth Police Officer. My fear of becoming a widow like my mom was on the other side of every goodbye kiss. My husband Mitchell encouraged me to reach out to Karen Freeto-Rutherford, surviving spouse of Officer Dwayne Freeto. He knew I needed something more to handle life and he was right. Karen encouraged me to go to a hands-on retreat where I got to talk about my trauma and grief. That trip changed my life and marriage. I have found hope in moments of despair and friendships in moments of loneliness.
Fast forward to today, I have found peace and joy I have not known before my savior Jesus Christ. The Adult Children’s Retreat and National Police Week have contributed to my healing. I have found laughter and understanding through COPS and will be here for anyone who needs just that. I am here to pay it forward and encourage other survivors! I am so honored to serve my blue family.
Officer Sunny Ma Lov
Dallas Police Department
Zoe Stahl, Surviving Sibling Officer
On the evening of April 13th, 2007, I lost my lifelong best friend, my adviser, my superman, my big brother, Officer Andrew Esparza. A tornado had come through and left several rain puddles which caused him to hydroplane and hit a light pole while responding to an assist officer call. Andy had been with the Irving Police Department for 2 years and was serving as a patrolman and a team member of the part time S.W.A.T. team.
My family and I were in San Antonio the night of the accident. We received a phone call advising that Andy had been involved in an accident and that we needed to catch the first flight back. Those were the longest hours of my life. Our flight was delayed due to bad weather and we had no idea what his condition was. When we finally landed at Dallas Love Field, our Chief of Police and Chaplin met us the airport and gave us the notification. I don’t remember much more from that night.
After six dark years my life had hit rock bottom. I was dealing with depression and severe anxiety that had completely taken over my life. The fear of losing my husband, who is also a Police Officer, was more than I could handle. I was a shell of a wife and mom who was struggling to make it through each day. With nothing to lose, I skeptically went to the Sibling’s Retreat. Three days…three days is all it took for me to take control of my life. Concerns of Police Survivors saved my marriage, saved my life and gave my sons a healthy mom.
I am forever grateful for this organization and the opportunity to serve our survivors. I wholeheartedly feel like this is my purpose and my way of turning my darkest days into a positive.
Irving Police Department
Deroy Bennett, Surviving Adult Child
As a 9-year-old boy my life was forever changed. I was an only child to Joyce and James “Pancho” Bennett, EOW April 3, 1980. The last memory I have of my father was him saying “I love you” early that morning as he left for his patrol day. Just hours later, I heard my mother scream begging me to come in the house. I will never forget what she said to me: “Your dad is dead.”
The last 36 years have been a blur full of up’s and down’s but the strength and courage of my father has been my Light. Following in his footsteps, I began a public safety career beginning as a volunteer fireman in high school, which led to EMT and Paramedic licenses. In 1991, my mother was faced with yet a second fear when I told her I would become a Police Officer. I would later wear a badge and gun and walk into the Decatur Police Department—the very same Department where my father served. I looked at my father’s picture on the wall every day.
I currently serve as Fire Marshal in the same city. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to attend National Police Week for the first time with my Mother by my side but we were not alone. The Decatur Police Chief who worked with my father and all the Blue Family I had never met joined us. Thanks to the Metroplex C.O.P.S., board I met other Surviving Adult
Children and was introduced to the Adult Children’s retreat. I am so blessed that I was able to attend this year and plan to never miss again. It was the events this year that sparked a desire to help survivors and mentor children who will be faced with the same challenges and heartache as I was.
It’s an honor and privilege to serve and work beside three of the best board members and a huge, wonderful BLUE Family!
Officer James Bennett
Decatur Police Department
Immediate Past President
Ashlee Hardy-Byers, Surviving Spouse 2007
On July 7, 2007 my world was forever changed. My husband, Wes Hardy, was killed in an accident while pursuing a speeding vehicle. I’d had no idea that that particular morning would be the last time we’d kiss, hug or say, “I love you.” In that singular moment, I lost my husband, my best friend, my soul mate and my girls had lost their Daddy. I was lost, and I didn't know where to turn or how to move forward. For years I felt stuck in a fog. Then in 2010, another spouse survivor reached out to me and suggested that I attend a Spouse’s Retreat through C.O.P.S. I was looking forward to a break from reality, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to reliving that horrible day with a room full of people I didn’t know.
It has been five years since Wes was killed. I am so incredibly grateful that my dear friend, Teresa Nava-Salazar, talked me into going to the Spouse’s Retreat—I haven't missed a year since. Words cannot express what C.O.P.S. has done for myself and my girls. We have also attended Kids Camp the last five years. Cora and Caitlyn look forward to it every year. It is the one week out of the year where they feel normal and they get to be kids!
I am excited to start a chapter in my life where I get to serve and help others like me. I hate that I won't be the last survivor to walk through our doors, but I know that Concerns of Police Survivors will be there for them as they have been for me. This organization has done great things for my family and I want to make sure that when a new survivor comes to us we are prepared and ready to help them to heal and rebuild their lives.
Officer Dayle Weston Hardy
Plano Police Department
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