Colleagues and friends mourn a good-natured man who loved his job
Read Officer Down: Dayle Weston "Wes" Hardy
By Tanya Eiserer and Michael A. Linderberger
The Dallas Morning News
PLANO, Tex. – An on-duty Plano police officer whom colleagues described as a good-natured, hard-working country boy died Saturday morning after being thrown from his motorcycle while pursuing a motorist.
Dayle Weston Hardy, 31, was driving north on Independence Parkway at Russell Creek Drive about 11 a.m. when the accident occurred, police said.
He was thrown from his motorcycle while trying to avoid another car.
Officer Hardy was pronounced dead at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas at 11:56 a.m.
Plano police declined to discuss additional details about the accident.
Officer Hardy, who was known as "Wes," was a nine-year veteran of the department, and he is the first Plano officer to die in the line of duty since 1920, officials said.
He is survived by his wife, whom he met while both were dispatchers at the Wise County Sheriff's Department, and twin 3-year-old daughters.
"We've lost a colleague, a friend and a member of the Plano police family," Plano police Chief Greg Rushin said.
Officer Hardy previously had worked with his father, also named Dayle Hardy, at the Wise County Sheriff's Department. He joined the Plano police force in 1998 and worked in patrol for about four years before becoming a motorcycle unit officer.
"He was a good ol' country boy," said Officer David Tilley, a Plano police spokesman. "He had that country accent. You could tell he was from Wise County."
Former Wise County patrolman Billy Hamilton, a friend of the younger Hardy, said the news of his death had hit the Decatur-area law enforcement community hard.
"There is a lot of shock and sadness," said Mr. Hamilton, who worked alongside Wes Hardy first as a dispatcher for Wise County and then as a deputy assigned to patrol duty.
"He was very upbeat; he had a good outlook on everything he did," said Mr. Hamilton, who left the department a year ago. "But he was very eager. He knew the job very well, even though he was a rookie."
Mr. Hamilton said his friend had left Wise County to join the Plano department because he wanted to join a larger police operation, noting that the sheriff's office had only 12 patrol deputies at the time.
But Saturday, Plano's department seemed small to the officers coping with Officer Hardy's death.
"We're a very close group here. It's very tough when you lose one of your colleagues," Officer Tilley said. "We're a small enough department that your colleagues are not just your colleagues – they're your friends. It's very devastating to us."
Lt. Jeff Wise, commander of the traffic unit, said Officer Hardy's colleagues in the motorcycle unit were devastated by the loss.
"They ride together. They train together. They work together," Lt. Wise said. "The ones I've talked to are struggling right now."
Officer Hardy could always be counted on and gave the job everything he had, Lt. Wise said.
"He was a very hard-working, very productive officer," he said. "He loved what he did."
Lt. Wise said Officer Hardy had visited his son's elementary school last year to teach about traffic safety.
"He came home just beaming about the officer he'd met. He said, 'Do you know him, Daddy?' " Lt. Wise recalled. He said his son always wanted to say hello to "Officer Wes" when he visited the station.
Officer Hardy earned more than 40 commendations during his career at Plano. He also received a Meritorious Service award in 2002 because of his "exemplary and enthusiastic work ethic" and his willingness to act as an "unofficial leader" for his shift, according to the award proclamation.
The proclamation also lauded his productivity and the assistance he gave detectives with a vehicle burglary investigation.
For Mr. Hamilton, one shift in particular stood out from when he and Officer Hardy had worked together in Wise County.
"This was not a huge incident, but it was really part of his character. While he was working patrol with us, his mom passed away unexpectedly. And on one of his first days back, we had to go to a fatality accident; it was right after dealing with his own mother's death. But he handled it like he handled everything else – absolutely professional."
After Officer Hardy's mother died, his father sold the family business – Hardy Boys Auto Parts – and switched from a reserve Wise County officer to a full-time deputy, Mr. Hamilton said. The elder Mr. Hardy now works as an investigator for the Wise County attorney's office, Mr. Hamilton said.
Plano police officials said the last time a Plano officer died in the line of duty was on Feb. 28, 1920, when Green Wesley Rye, a city marshal, was shot during a robbery at the Plano National Bank.
"We talked about Officer Rye, but none of us were even born when he died," Lt. Wise said. "There's a lot of disbelief" now at Officer Hardy's death.
Copyright 2007 Dallas Morning News
Tex. officer dies in motorcycle accident during pursuit