A new sign will mark the spot where a Moody County deputy lost his life nearly 16 years ago.
The 3-foot-by-6-foot maroon sign was dedicated Saturday in memory of Bill Davis and as a kickoff to National Police Week, a time set aside to remember fallen officers. The sign will move from the Moody County Courthouse lawn to the bridge over the Big Sioux River on Interstate 29.
Drivers in the northbound lane will be able to see it and remember Davis who died while responding to an accident call, said Sheriff Troy Wellman, who help dedicate the sign.
About 25 people attended the ceremony, including Tony Firman, a former county commissioner who helped get approval for the sign from the S.D. Department of Transportation, and Sergeant Josh Olson of the South Dakota Highway Patrol who was at the scene of the deadly accident on Nov. 3, 2003.
Olson, who has been a trooper since 2002, said he will see the sign while on duty and still vividly remembers the accident. “It’s tough because it’s a reminder of how dangerous our job is,” he said. Yet, it’s fitting that the sign will be there.
Davis had responded to a traffic accident in poor weather conditions and was attempting to give one of the people involved a citation, when a separate car lost control and hit Davis, killing him.
Davis’ brother, Paul Gertsen from Roseville, Minn., said Davis had been hit by a car when he was 5 years old growing up in Aberdeen and was taken to the hospital. But Davis, who was 54 when he died, also quoted the saying, “when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go,” Gertsen said.
Those left behind have a chance to continue our work here and should think about honor and duty and thank those in law enforcement, he said. “Think about your own treasures in your own lives,” he said.
Davis was called to a career in law enforcement after serving in two branches of the military, Gertsen said. Davis served 22 years as a deputy in Moody County.
Gertsen said the sign is a good tribute.
“I think the most important thing is to know that other people remember Bill,” he said. “That really touches me the most.”
Firman offered a pray for the protection of those who serve and the memory of Davis. “May we never forget him, and every time we pass this sign, may we say a prayer thanking him for his sacrifice.”
Wellman, who drove the ambulance to the scene of the crash, said he thinks about it whenever he is called to the interstate. “Every day I go to the interstate when the roads are bad, it’s all right here,” he said, pointing to the back of his head. “Those of us that put the badge on every day, we know the sacrifices.”