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Edmond police officer knows the importance of stepping up

Jimmy Gwartney, now an Edmond police officer, shows gratitude for help he received as a teen.
by Bryan Painter Modified: August 3, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 3, 2014

Stepping up is usually not as easy as standing back.

But there are those who have stepped up when Jimmy Gwartney needed them — whether he realized it at the time or not.

And so, Gwartney, a 35-year-old Edmond police detective, deems it important to step up for others, including children.

One example takes Gwartney back to when he was 17 years old in the summer between his junior and senior year at Madill High School.

It was raining heavily early one morning, and Gwartney’s father was traveling to work on an old rural road. Another driver was traveling the opposite direction and was traveling too fast for the conditions, Gwartney said.

“The other driver departed the roadway and overcorrected trying to avoid a mailbox,” he said. “She returned back to the roadway and crossed the center line. The driver then collided nearly head-on with my father’s vehicle.”

Gwartney’s father was driving an older vehicle that was not equipped with air bags. Also, his dad’s truck operated off of propane and he had a large propane tank in the bed of the truck. Between the impact of the other vehicle and the momentum of his vehicle, the father was wedged between the steering wheel and the back part of his cab. The weight of his propane tank forced his seat around him, the son said.

Gwartney’s father died in the accident.

A lot of people stepped up for the teen. Among them was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who worked the collision.

“(He) was a personal friend and I was able to meet with him several times to discuss this collision,” Gwartney said.

“He spent several hours talking to me, helping me to understand what happened.”

When Gwartney became a police officer, a goal was to be trained in the field of collision reconstruction.

“Going through a tragic event like this allows you to have a greater understanding what the families you have come in contact with are going through and will be dealing with,” he said.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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