DATELINE:  Boca Raton, FL, July 26, 2009                         FROM THE CopBlue VAULT

I met Terrance T. Copeland Jr. today at about 2:45PM.

Terrance seemed a pleasant youngster of about 3 years old.   He was unusually quiet and our meeting was quite by chance.




While heading southbound on I-95 at Glades road, en route to see a friend from the NLEOMF (Washington DC) who was visiting in Pampano Beach, my wife and I encountered a Chevy trailblazer.   It was lying on its passenger side in the gore at the SB exit ramp to Glades Rd.  The Chevy had come to rest only seconds prior to our arrival.

Crash Just Happened

I stopped our car in the freeway gutter and carefully made my way across the road as traffic began to back up.

There was an adult BM lying face down on the asphalt roadway.  He was moaning, and bleeding from the spot where the back of his skull met the windshield.  He was alert and conversational.  Though very uncomfortable, he appeared to be in no real danger.  I told him to lie very still until help arrived.

There were two adult BF one of who was hysterically out of control which was creating havoc and unrest in the others who were part of the scene.   I worked hard to calm her down.  From the corner of my eye, I saw another off-duty officer (the haircut always gives us away) tending to a small child lying on the grass.   Both of the females were bleeding from multiple locations on their bodies, but there was nothing that was life threatening on either of them.  I finally got the hysterical BF under control.

Check list:

  • Any more injuries?  No.
  • Has 911 been called?  Many times, by multiple people.
  • What is the elapsed time since the crash?  It seemed like an hour, but it was only about 5 minutes.
  • Situational awareness:  Traffic is now really backing up and there is some concern of a second crash amongst the gawkers.
  • Is everyone still breathing?  Yes

The other officer said he notified the FD of a trauma alert on the little boy.  Initially, the child was not breathing.  However, breathing resumed and his heart rate was strong.   Oddly though, he laid there in total silence without so much as a whimper for his mom or dad.




It was then that I met Terrance T. Copeland Jr.

I knelt along side him.  I did not want him to move.  I talked with him.  I told him that his family would be OK.  He looked wide-eyed at me, but said nothing.   I touched his hand and tried to reassure him that all would be OK.   Help was on the way – we could hear the sirens as the crew raced their way to us.

It was now time to hold everything steady until the paramedics arrived, which they did.  The other officer and I briefed the arriving crew.  We told the cops what they needed to know and helped to get some of the stopped drivers back on their way.

Yup, it’s a bit of an adrenaline rush.  But, as cops are known to do – we came on a problem and handled it to the best of our abilities.  Again I was reminded that we don’t have the luxury of standing on the sidelines when things go sideways.  We’re always in the mix.




I was tired and went to bed around 10:00PM.  My wife came to bed after watching the 11:00PM news.   The news reporter said that 3 year old Terrance Jr. died at the hospital a few hours after the crash.  When she told me, I felt like I had been kicked in the groin and sucker-punched in the gut at the same time.

I have just now read the on-line report.  Seemingly, the adults in Terrance’s life didn’t care enough to have him in a seatbelt or any kind of child restraint.   He was ejected from the Trailblazer as it rolled over.

This hurts.  My cop exterior had been burnished with service in metro Detroit.   Adults screw-up all the time and usually, get what they deserve.  Harming a child pierces that armor like a hot knife through butter.

Terrance Jr. deserved more.  Every child does.

I feel anger at his parents for being significant contributors to his death.  Yet, I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child – or grandchild.  The cop in me wants to “fix” this.    I want to say something profound and make it all better.  I want to take control and turn back the clock so that it doesn’t happen.  But, I cannot.

I met 3 year old Terrance T. Copeland Jr. today.

He was a wonderful young boy.   He is back in God’s hands now.   May God have mercy on those responsible for this tragic turn of events.

For me:  I will spend some time pondering the meaning of it all and then get back in the saddle.  Please keep the Copeland family in your prayers.  They are needed now, more than ever.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.






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Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing me to share my story with you.  I can be contacted with questions or input: EMAIL ME   or call me at my home office (386) 763-3000.