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Mich. Officer Killed by Drunk Driver

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July 27, 2003

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Mich. Officer Killed by Drunk Driver

Officer Down: Police Officer Gordon "Lew" Stevens - [Canton Twp., Michigan]

Speeding car slams into patrol cruiser; alcohol may be factor

By George Hunter and David G. Grant / The Detroit News

CANTON TOWNSHIP -- A highly decorated policeman, who was among the township's first officers, was killed Wednesday when he was hit by a car while investigating a suspected stolen vehicle.

Police Officer Gordon "Lew" Stevens was entering information about an abandoned vehicle into his cruiser's computer about 4:10 p.m. when another vehicle slammed into him on Lotz Road.

"It's a terrible tragedy," Police Capt. Alex Wilson said. "It's hard to lose one of your own. The whole department is grieving."

Director of Public Safety John Santomauro said that the vehicle that hit Stevens' patrol car was speeding and police suspect alcohol was involved.

"He never knew what hit him," said the officer's father, Gordon Stevens Sr.

Stevens' death marks the second time in about two weeks that a Michigan police officer was killed in the line of duty.

Police said the incident began when the 52-year-old Stevens spotted the abandoned vehicle in tall grass near Lotz Road north of Van Born. Stevens parked his patrol car on the west side of Lotz and walked to the grassy area to investigate the vehicle.

After Stevens wrote down the car's license plate number, he went back to his cruiser to put the information into the police computer. He was sitting in his squad car entering the abandoned vehicle's information into the computer when he was hit by a vehicle traveling southbound on Lotz, police said.

About five minutes later, Canton Police got a call from a passing motorist who saw the wreckage of the two gnarled cars on the side of Lotz Road. Stevens was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m. at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in Wayne.

The driver and passenger in the other vehicle both were seriously injured. They also were taken to Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. Their conditions were not known Wednesday.

For Gordon Stevens Sr., his son's death was the second tragedy to strike him recently.

"This has been a rough couple weeks for me -- my wife just died of cancer two weeks ago," the elder Stevens said. "Now this. I don't know how I'm going to hold up."

Stevens, a 25-year veteran of the Canton police force, was married and lived in Ann Arbor. He began his career with the Canton Police Department as a reserve in 1976. He was among the original officers hired by the township when in 1978 the department began providing full-time police services to the community.

"Ever since he was a little boy, he always wanted to be a police officer," the elder Stevens said. "I was proud of him, but I told him just the other day to get out. Everyone has a gun these days, and that's a dangerous line of work. As it turned out, he was killed by an accident, not a gun.

During his career, Stevens earned several departmental awards, including a Commendation and a Certificate of Merit. He also was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal from the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police for his successful intervention of an armed robbery.

The last Michigan police officer to die in the line of duty was state trooper Kevin Marshall, 33, who was shot to death July 7 during a raid on a home in Fremont. An intense five-

day manhunt ended when police killed Scott Woodring, the man who was the suspect in Marshall's death.

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