End of watch: Patrolman who died near Kremmling honored 60 years later with special memorial
October 1, 2017
Just over 60 years ago this week, a tragedy struck in Grand County with the death of Colorado State Patrolman Richard J. Cahalan. On Sept. 28, 1957, Cahalan was driving down Highway 134, stretching between Wolford Mountain Reservoir and the town of Toponas in Grand County, when his patrol car went off the road and fell down a 50-foot embankment.
Early Thursday morning, on the 60th anniversary of Cahalan's end of watch, numerous troopers and senior officials from the Colorado State Patrol, representatives of the local law enforcement community, and some of Cahalan's family gathered at the location of his passing to unveil a new memorial sign recognizing his service and sacrifice.
The unveiling is part of a larger campaign the Colorado State Patrol has undertaken over the past two years to place markers around the state in recognition of the 27 troopers who have lost their lives while on duty since the State Patrol was formally established in 1935. Cahalan was the seventh trooper in state history to perish while serving and his memorial marker is the seventh the state has placed.
Cahalan's tragic death while on duty, which law enforcement officials refer to as "end of watch", left behind a grieving family including his wife and three young daughters. One of his daughters, Dorothy Van Dyke, and Cahalan's adult grandson Mike Scott, were present for the dedication.
"This is amazing," Van Dyke said. "It brings it home. It really brings back a lot of memories. This is not easy, but it is just so nice that he gets recognized."
Cahalan's grandson Scott echoed his mother's sentiments.
"This is a huge honor," Scott said. "I can't thank them enough, State Patrol, and everyone who has come out to do this."
Van Dyke said her father had recently been transferred to the Lakewood area just prior to his death. Van Dyke and Scott both live in Firestone and got up early Thursday morning to make the trek into the high country.
Colorado State Patrol Chief, Colonel Scott Hernandez was on hand for the dedication and outlined the CSP's recently initiated memorial program. According to Hernandez the program was originally pushed by the CSP's Women's Resource Network and was eventually adopted by Association of State Patrol Professionals. From there the State Patrol legislative liaison lobbied the State Legislature for a bill to assist the CSP's efforts in erecting the memorials.
Chief Hernandez addressed Van Dyke and Scott prior to the unveiling.
"This has been a long time coming," Hernandez said. "But we are proud it is [happening] now. We wear the same colors, on this uniform, that your father wore. It is an honor to wear this uniform, in memory of all of our fallen troopers."
Also on hand for the dedication ceremony Thursday morning was Chief Scott Spade of the Kremmling Police and Sheriff Brett Schroetlin of the Grand County Sheriff's Office, along with several senior deputies.
If you are looking for Patrolman Cahalan's memorial marker you will find it on the south side of Highway 134 roughly one-mile west of the junction with Highway 40.