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Officers put to rest after tragic helicopter crash

November 25, 2012
Douglass High School



         Just up the street from Frederick Douglass High School, at the corner of Martin Luther King and Holmes Drive, two Atlanta Police Department officers from the helicopter unit searched desperately for a young boy who had allegedly run away from home. As the search continued, their blades struck a nearby pole causing their helicopter to crash onto the sidewalk below. Now, balloons, teddy bears and flowers mark the place on MLK where the two officers lost their lives.            

         “Its hard to believe such a thing could happened. I feel great sorrow and my heart goes out to the families of the fallen officers,” senior Elijah Williams said.           

          On November 3, 2012, a call went out, stating that a young boy had just run away from home. Prior to the call, the young child and his mother had just finished arguing before the boy stormed out of the house in anger. The mother contacted 911 in hopes that they would find the run away and Officer Halford and Officer Smiley soon boarded a helicopter in search of the lost boy.                

          Their lights flashed up and down the streets, constantly trying to keep an eye on where the young child ran off. Due to the intensity of the search, the helicopter had to fly extremely low in order to find the boy. However flying this low is extremely dangerous. The pilots soon found out how dangerous it was. They ran nose first into a near by light pole. Their landing gear got tangled up in cables as their propellers stopped and they crashed straight into the asphalt below. The windows shattered causing the pilots to make direct contact with the sidewalk. They were killed on impact. Their lives were lost in search of a small child, who probably didn’t even know that his actions were so detrimental.            

          These officers were fathers themselves. One was a father of three small children, while the other leaves behind a 21- year old daughter. Both of the officers had families and will be greatly missed.             

          The funeral was held at First Baptist Church of Atlanta for Officer Halford and officer Smiley the Saturday after the crash. A record-breaking number of officers gathered to celebrate the lives of the fallen officers along with a host of friends and family, their tears falling the hardest.              

          Teddy bears and balloons hang from the sidewalk of the crash sight in remembrance of the fallen officers. Even those who didn't know them personally paid their respects to two heroes working to help others. Now, as students and parents pass by the sight, they are reminded of just how much officers risk for the sake of others and how much they are loved in Atlanta. 

           “The loss of an officer is probably the most difficult thing a chief of police can have to deal with. Now magnify that twice, it’s a very difficult time for not just me, but the entire Atlanta Police Department family,” Chief of Police Turner said.    

By Ibrahim Carson


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