SERGEANT ROBERT D. WARD – EOW: 5-15-1969
By: Officer Mike Severance – North Precinct
On May 15, 1969 around 3:25 a.m., Sgt. John Dempsey observed two men in a vehicle slowly pulling away from the Copper Door Tavern at 6601 E. Marginal Way S. When he discovered the back door had been forced open, he attempted to stop the vehicle. The car was driven by Michael R. DeVeau, 22, who was on parole for burglary. He refused to stop and sped off. Officer Mel McKenzie joined in the pursuit which reached speeds of 100 m.p.h.
Officers Gary Pankey and Paul Greiner were partners walking a beat, possibly the Chinatown beat. They were with Sgt. Robert D. Ward #1440 when the pursuit was broadcast. They decided to ride with Sgt. Ward, and assist in efforts to stop the suspect vehicle. As the pursuit proceeded north on 1 Ave. S., Sgt. Ward was driving south on 1 Ave. S. In the 1000 block, about where the old northbound on-ramp to the viaduct was located, the suspect vehicle crossed the centerline and hit Sgt. Ward’s patrol car head-on. It took firefighters and officers 30 minutes to extricate Sgt. Ward from the wreckage. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Swedish Hospital at 4:10 a.m. Officers Pankey and Greiner were seriously injured. DeVeau was dead at the scene. His passenger and accomplice, Gerald McCarter, a convicted felon, was seriously injured.
Sergeant Robert Ward was survived by his mother, a sister, and his children, Michael, Robert Jr., and Janice. Bob Ward’s funeral was held at the Mittlestadt Chapel on May 17, 1969. He was buried at Washelli Cemetery.
Gerald McCarter was convicted of second-degree burglary. He was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. The prison time was suspended on the condition that he serve one year in the county jail and pay court costs.
Robert D. Ward was born in Selah, WA on December 3, 1926. He grew up in the Wallingford neighborhood, and graduated from Lincoln High School. He obtained an accounting degree from the University of Washington before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He married Kathryn A. Dariotis on January 23, 1948, and was commissioned as a Seattle police officer on March 20, 1953. Bob joined SPD with his best friend, Harry Schneider. Bob spent most of his career at the Wallingford Precinct where one of his assignments was a walking beat in Lake City. On February 13, 1955, Bob had an experience few of us ever have. He assisted in the delivery of a baby girl at a house on N. 95th Street. A young woman had gone into labor, and the baby just wouldn’t wait. Bob was promoted to Sergeant in 1969, and was assigned to Patrol at the old Public Safety Building. He loved the outdoors, and enjoyed fishing and hunting. For most of his career, Bob was a member of the SPD Marching Drill Team. He also had a part in a Hollywood movie made in Seattle, The Slender Thread, starring Sidney Poitier. Those who knew and worked with Bob Ward remember his sense of humor and love for the job. At the time of his death, Bob had lived at 1609 N. 36th St.
On May 30, 1969, the name of Sergeant Robert D. Ward was added to the Seattle Police Department Memorial Plaque located in the fourth floor lobby of the Public Safety Building. His was the 44th name added to that memorial. A local newspaper wrote about it. In a strange coincidence, an adjacent article was about the 29 Seattle police officers who had graduated from Academy Class #58 the night before. One of those officers was Dorian L. Halvorson who was killed in the line of duty on September 24, 1976. Another member of Class #58 was Officer Thomas L. Brenton, the uncle of Officer Timothy Brenton who was killed in the line of duty on October 31, 2009.
One of Bob’s sons, Officer Mike Ward #3964, is now retired, and one of Bob’s grandchildren, Sergeant Randy Ward, was promoted to Sergeant in May of 2013. There is a rumor that a request has been made to the Chief of Police to allow Randy to wear his grandfather’s sergeant’s badge when he is promoted.
In May 1998, Sergeant Robert D. Ward was one of forty Seattle police officers, killed between 1881 and 1976, who were posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. Five of those officers had family members present at the awards ceremony. Bob’s family was there to receive his medal.