CINCINNATI — "There are some guys you teach how to be policemen, and there are some guys who are born to be policemen," an emotional Colerain Township police Chief Mark Denney said Monday night.
Officer Dale Woods, who died hours earlier at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, was the second kind: Serious, caring and dedicated to the welfare of the community he served.
Woods, 46, was struck by a pickup Friday night while responding to the scene of a Colerain Avenue crash that snapped a utility pole in half. According to an account published by the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society, he was guarding the scene while waiting for utility workers to arrive.
Watch Denney's entire news conference:
The ambulance that transported him to UCMC that night was trailed by firefighters, fellow officers and other emergency personnel who hoped to show their support; the same entourage trailed the vehicle that carried his remains away from the hospital Monday. Miles away, flowers left by well-wishers decorated the scene of the strike.
Woods' death leaves behind a family and a department that will both be changed by his absence, Denney said.
He had spent 15 years with the Colerain Township Police Department, where many other officers have never experienced a comrade's death, and several more before that with the Colerain Township Fire Department. Denney, who knew him for 32 years, discovered new facets of Woods' career in public service even as he and other colleagues exchanged stories at his bedside. He had also worked with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and spent time with other local police and fire departments before settling in Colerain.
"Even in his last moments, he shared — he became an organ donor," Denney said. "Even gone, he cares about people and he takes care of them. That’s him.”
He hopes his department and the larger law enforcement community of Greater Cincinnati can do the same for Woods' family, whom he described as heartbroken but "remarkably giving" as they allowed supporters in uniform to spend time with Woods in his last three days of life.
He also thanked the residents of Colerain Township, many hundreds of whom attended a Monday night vigil to pray for Woods' recovery.
"I think the majority of people do know it's a dangerous job, and the man was just doing his job," Colerain resident Bob Nash said then. "(But) he was not in harm's way in terms of any bullets flying. Tragic. It hurts."