With folks dashing around Texas roadways during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget how easily accidents can happen.
A Nolanville police officer died while trying to help a motorist after an accident more than eight years ago in Oklahoma, a reminder for caution during the holidays.
Patrick Sirois, 50, Nolanville Police Department reserve officer, died on Nov. 23, 2010, while heading to Oklahoma with his fiancée to visit family for Thanksgiving.
Nolanville’s police chief said no one currently in the department worked with him, but his legacy is known by his officers.
“I’ve heard that he was a likeable guy and as you can see from some of the photographs of him he always has a smile on his face,” said Daniel Porter, on Tuesday. “His reputation was that he loved his job and liked a good joke.”
Years ago, the city planted a tree in his memory on the north side of police department headquarters.
“I’m told that the department felt a tremendous sense of loss,” Porter said.
In videos online, Sirois was given a hero’s welcome when his body was brought back to Killeen.
The Desert Storm Army veteran also served as a civilian police officer with the Fort Hood Police Department and was posthumously awarded the Texas Award for Valor by the State of Texas on June 3, 2011.
Sirois joined Nolanville Police Department as a reserve officer in 2006 and was Nolanville’s Officer of the Year in 2009.
Sirois witnessed an accident happen and stopped his vehicle, donned a reflective vest and began to assist one of the drivers, according to Sirois’s page on the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit organization.
“As he spoke to the man on the shoulder, he saw another car about to collide with the vehicle,” according to the organization. “He pushed the driver out of harm’s way just as the vehicle was struck, pinning him between it and the guardrail.”
Sirois died later at the hospital.
Porter said the department sees an increase in accidents every year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, with 21 accidents just since November of this year.
Of the 231 accidents in Nolanville in 2017, 25 happened in November and December, Porter said.
“We’re only a couple of weeks into the holiday season, so we still have Christmas and New Year’s, which is usually when more accidents happen,” he said.
In addition to an increase in traffic congestion and winter weather hazards, folks often behave differently behind the wheel than they normally would.
“People are often more distracted during the holiday travels and increased alcohol consumption also plays a part,” Porter said. “My best advice is to slow down, avoid distractions like cell phones and pay attention to the traffic, road conditions and to your surroundings.”