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Close Knit Police Force Coping with the Loss of a Friend

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A Makeshift Memorial
MORRISVILLE — Just one day after a local lawmanunexpectedly left his police force, other members of the small 19 memberdepartment are pulling together to get through the tragedy.

Sgt. William Earl Godwin was killed Thursday when he was thrown from histown-owned vehicle after it collided with a car.

In that spot now sits an impromptu memorial complete with a floweringplant, a Dr. Pepper soft drink, and a pack of Marlboros. Those wereapparently Godwin's favorite things.

Godwin, 33, a canine handler who had been with the Morrisville PoliceDepartment for nine years, was killed when his unmarked Range Rover collidedwith a Honda driven by Patricia Ettson of Apex. Ettson was not injured;she left the scene with her husband.

"He's going to be missed," said Morrisville resident Charles Johnson."He's well-liked and well-thought-of, and it hurts everybody."

Godwin's canine partner was not injured; the dog jumped out of Godwin'svehicle and ran back to the town police station.

Friday, Morrisville Police Chief Bruce Newnam met with his force to talkabout the loss. Newnam, still appearing shook up by Godwin's death, toldWRAL's Betsy Sykes about the close knit department. He characterizes theforce as a small group in a family atmosphere.Listen toauorReal Audiofile.

David Hackney witnessed the accident and tried to help Godwin., one of 12police officers in the growing western Wake County town.

Diane Markham is saddened by the loss of her friend. She characterizesGodwin, a Morrisville native, as an unselfish man who always took his jobseriously and never had a negative thing to say about anyone.

The crash occurred as Ettson pulled into the intersection of McCrimmonParkway and Church Street in Morrisville. Ettson told authorities she hadcome to a complete stop before proceeding north on McCrimmon. Police saidGodwin was driving west on Church Street. She said sheheard no siren and saw no flashing lights, even thought the Range Roverwas equipped lights and siren.

Brian Coates, a construction worker near the scene of the accident, told WRAL-TV5's Bret Baier that neither he nor his co-workers heard asiren before the car and Range Rover collided.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is now handling an investigation ofthe accident. Friday they announced no criminal charges will befiled in the incident. Godwin leaves behind a wife and 1-year-olddaughter.

Two other officers have died on area roads in our area in just thelast two years while answering calls.

Rookie Raleigh police officer Denise Holden lost control of her police cruiser in August 1995. She was killed in the early morning, one-caraccident. In August 1996, state Trooper Damien Roberts was killed in aone-car crash near Fayetteville. Roberts also apparently lost control ofhis car while answering a call.

Reported by Bret Baier, HREF="/info/bios/">Rick Gall, andBetsy Sykes

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