Weld County Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Brownlee of Colorado was killed in the line of duty five years ago, but his sons now own their father’s old patrol car, a Dodge Charger, but the story of how they got it is really heartwarming.
I know, if you are like me, you were probably reading the headline and thinking, “I hope they didn’t use taxpayer money for this.” Well, they didn’t.
In fact, the two sons of Deputy Brownlee, Tanner and Chase Brownlee, raised the money themselves to buy their father’s patrol car in an auction.
“Realizing how much this car meant to him, I understand it now, and I want to keep that and hold onto it,” Tanner told 9NEWS before the auction.
The boys seemed to be up against another bidder who wanted the car more than they did.
Rancher Steve Wells continued to bid against the brothers, not letting them know that he had an agenda.
When the bidding stopped, Wells had won the bidding. Tanner appeared brokenhearted, but that quickly came to an end and he shed tears of joy as Wells walked over to him and handed him the keys to the Charger.
“Here’s your car,” he said.
Brownlee was overcome with emotion as he shook Wells’ hand and gave him a hug. He recalled his father working on the car for many hours during his time of service.
“He put time and work into it. He drove it every day, and so to have something like that will be bigger than a lot of things I could have gotten,” Tanner said.
Wells had outbid Brownlee, paying a whopping $60,000 for the car! The proceeds from the auction benefit the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), a national organization that offers emotional support services to families of fallen officers.
In an exclusive interview, Wells told the Denver CBS affiliate that his goal was to buy the car for Brownlee.
“It never crossed my mind not to,” Wells said. “I wanted to hand the keys to that young man.”
Part of how Wells makes his money is through oil and gas drilling on his 32,000 acre ranch in Northern Colorado.
“It’s no secret we’ve made a lot of money,” Wells said. “I have been able to donate to things in a way that financially I never dreamt I could have and that’s very important to me.”
He said that it was very important to him because he also was the recipient of a gift when he was a small child.
“I’m adopted,” Wells said. “And being adopted you have a different perspective on life. I look back and I could’ve been raised in foster care, my mother could’ve had an abortion, I mean, there were so many different things that could’ve happened during the course of my life.
“I was adopted by outstanding parents,” he added. “I couldn’t ask for anything more and I’ve always felt that need to give back.”
Tanner was just 15 years old when his father lost his life following a chase the culminated in him being shot by Reuben Reyes, who was later killed by officers. Sam Brownlee was the first Weld County Deputy killed in the line of duty since 1940.
When Wells heard about what had happened, he recalled how it made him feel.
“Here was a man who lost his life as a deputy sheriff for the people of Weld County,” Wells said. “His son wanted something to remember his dad by and the fact that that young man could sit behind the wheel of that car and look through the windshield that his dad did was extremely important to me. It was just something I felt I had to do.”
“When the auction was over and I walked up and I handed him those keys. That is a lifetime moment. It was for him and it was for me,” Wells said. “That was a moment that, for me, meant everything.”
I don’t know about you, but the world could use a lot more Steve Wells in it, don’t you agree?