Local News

Close Knit Police Force Coping with the Loss of a Friend

Posted May 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Just one day after a local lawman unexpectedly left his police force, other members of the small 19 member department are pulling together to get through the tragedy.

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

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

Godwin, 33, a canine handler who had been with the Morrisville Police Department for nine years, was killed when his unmarked Range Rover collided with 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's vehicle and ran back to the town police station.

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

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

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

The crash occurred as Ettson pulled into the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Church Street in Morrisville. Ettson told authorities she had come to a complete stop before proceeding north on McCrimmon. Police said Godwin was driving west on Church Street. She said she heard no siren and saw no flashing lights, even thought the Range Rover was 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 a siren before the car and Range Rover collided.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is now handling an investigation of the accident. Friday they announced no criminal charges will be filed in the incident. Godwin leaves behind a wife and 1-year-old daughter.

Two other officers have died on area roads in our area in just the last 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-car accident. In August 1996, state Trooper Damien Roberts was killed in a one-car crash near Fayetteville. Roberts also apparently lost control of his car while answering a call.

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