I narrowly avoided tragedy on a Colorado highway. Meet the two hero cops who put their lives on the line

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Coach Deion Sanders, former NFL star, is the toast of college football with his heroic turnaround of the University of Colorado team. While he deserves all praise coming his way, there are two other local men, law enforcement officers with the Boulder Police Department, whom I wish to salute.  

Police officers are known to run to rather than from the sound of guns. On a recent trip to Boulder, I learned they’re equally willing to run to the sound of silence. This is dangerous when the quiet comes from a glitchy hybrid engine propelling a family down a busy highway.

Last month my wife, Devin, and I took our daughter, Hope, out west for her freshman year at the University of Colorado. Upon landing at Denver International Airport, we rented a minivan, stuffed it to the gills with dorm room necessities purchased at a nearby Target, and headed to campus.

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Our rental, with plans of its own, exercised discretion foreign to an owner of an old pickup truck like me. As insouciantly as a sophomore switches majors, my dashboard declared the hybrid engine would soon shut down. It did this completely and troublingly of its own accord while we were cruising down the expressway.

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FILE – Colorado Buffaloes head football coach Deion Sanders answers questions at the 70th annual Colorado University Fall Sports Media Day in Boulder August 11, 2023.  (Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Some post hoc internet sleuthing by me suggested that the particular make and model of my rented minivan might have had a faulty transmission wiring connector that caused the abrupt engine shutdown. I know of no better explanation for why we were, and then suddenly and dangerously were not, closing in on Boulder at high speed.

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It was equal parts terrifying, for obvious reasons, and unexpected, given that this was a brand-new vehicle we had rented. Under limited power, we managed to steer across multiple lanes of traffic to the shoulder of a downhill exit ramp, which improved our lie but hardly put us out of harm’s way.

Enter two Boulder police officers who, in responding to our 911 distress call, found two parents still in shock over what had just happened. Putting first their vehicle and then their bodies between my family and oncoming traffic, they moved us to safety and directed drivers until roadside assistance arrived.

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As the tow truck arrived and hitched up our wagon for the long drive back to the airport rental in Denver, I walked toward the policemen who were then returning to their car. Professional and modest, they were hesitant to give me their cards, telling me they were only doing their duty.

Putting first their vehicle and then their bodies between my family and oncoming traffic, they moved us to safety and directed drivers until roadside assistance arrived.

 The gentlemen finally relented when I said I just wanted to express my gratitude once I was back at home in Charlotte. 

I do that now with hope that they don’t mind a few more people reading the note. Officers Williams and Starks of the Boulder Police Department, thank you for serving and protecting.

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You may’ve been, as you humbly put it, simply doing your jobs, but that job requires a courage few possess. And courage, as John Wayne put it, is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. Every day, you saddle up, and selflessly protect the lives of people in your community and far beyond. You’re good men.  

I hope we meet again someday in Boulder, perhaps on some college football game day. The next time I rent, though, I think I’ll first see if there are any old pickup trucks on the lot.

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