Not crying. Not crying. Well maybe, yeah, definitely sobbing.
In late June from his patrol car, Southbridge Massachusetts Police Officer Duane Ledoux did his final code five, the signal for an officer signing off.
Ledoux retired after 32 1/2 years on the police force. On the other end of the radio is Southbridge Chief Shane Woodson. And a surprise. A heart-wrenching and move-one-to-tears surprise that is the video everyone needs right now.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ledoux Served Three Decades-Plus in the Town of 16,000 so Chances Are Many in Town Know Him & He’s Clearly Admired by His Chief
Ledoux was the court records officer for the department. He was the go-to guy for anyone who had anything to do with court and in a small town, it’s perhaps not unlikely he worked with many citizens over the years. His family was well-known and in part, for a tragic reason which we’ll egt to shortly. In the meantime, Ledoux is videotaped in his cruiser on his last day and the Chief of Police has nice things to say about the longtime officer. And it’s a lovely exchange, in and of itself heartwarming.
“It’s my honor as chief to accept” Ledoux’s final sign off. Woodson calls him “badge 1041.” Woodson thanks Ledoux on behalf of the police department and the Town of Southbridge for his service to the community and his dedication. “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Congrats, brother.”
But that’s not even the bit.
2. Ledoux Signs Off as a Southbridge Police Officer for the Last Time & His Words Bring Tears
Ledoux says, “And I thank you,” into his radio. Clearly on the verge of tears himself and with a trembling voice he says, “Too much to say, but thank you.”
“To everybody in my family, to everyone I served with and to my boys,” Ledoux says as he wipes his eyes.
“Time to go home. It’s time to go home.”
3. In 2003, Duane Ledoux’s 16-year-old Son Nicholas & the Teen’s Mother were Killed in a Car Crash. His Son Nathan Survived
Tulsa World reported that Ledoux’s longtime partner, and mother to his sons, Kelly Fournier, her mother Kathleen, and Nicholas and Nathan Ledoux has just completed a Colorado River rafting trip. During the excursion, Nicholas was almost bitten by a rattlesnake. He survived that encounter but did not survive the wrong way driver who hit the car the family was traveling in on a dark Oklahoma highway in the middle of a stormy night.
A University of Tulsa student, William Thomas Wyatt, of North Dakota, inexplicably was driving on the wrong side of the turnpike, it was reported at the time. Authorities were not able to explain why.
The only survivor was Ledoux’s son Nathan, then 13. The tragedy stretched from the Colorado to Southbridge where a whole community mourned.
3. ‘Collision Aftermath Elicits Outpouring of Grief’ Was Tulsa World’s Headline 15 Years Ago
The funeral for the family – mother, daughter and her son – was held in Notre Dame Church in Southbridge. The whole town was there.
It was reported in June of 2003, that Nicholas, a football player at Tantasqua High School, was about to enter 11th grade; Nathan was going into the eighth grade. At the time, the then principal described Nicholas as being a good student, good kid and always wearing a smile.
Nathan too was an athlete.
Their mom Kelly “never missed her boys’ games, even though she worked full time as a waitress and, for a time, as a patient-care assistant with her mother at a local hospital,” her brother told Tulsa World.
4. Nathan Survived But Was Seriously Injured. Ledoux ‘Never Left His Side’
“Duane has not left his son since the accident,” then-Southbridge Police Chief Daniel Charette told the newspaper.
He said the community had rallied around Ledoux.
“Charette described the outpouring of sympathy and support as tremendous, with messages coming in to his office and the courthouse where Duane worked as the court officer. Some of Nathan’s classmates and fellow athletes have started a fund-raiser to help the family out, and, in the future, it is hoped the money will be used to start a scholarship in Nicholas’ name.”
And life, as it often does, went on.
Fast forward to present day and Nathan, actually Nate, is a photographer living in Seattle.
“Nate Ledoux is not your typical Seattle kind of guy. He has a dog, likes drinking coffee and beer, rides his bike to work, collects comics, has two modest tattoos, and carries a camera with him everywhere he goes,” his ‘about’ page reads on his photography website. His Instagram also exhibits his work, which is stunning and often features his dog.
5. Fifteen Years Later, Ledoux Wept For ‘My Boys’ on His Last Day on the Job. Nathan, Now 28, Lives Across the Country. But Nathan Came Home
Please pass the Kleenex. Lovely, right?