Family, colleagues remember Drew Henley

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2005

On Thursday night, a man phoned Suffolk police, threatening to commit suicide by letting a train hit him on the Holliday Street tracks, near the police station at the corner of East Washington and Pinner streets. Three officers went to the scene, one of whom was William A. &uot;Drew&uot; Henley.

The three took the man into custody, and started to walk him away from the tracks. Suddenly, a train rumbled down the track. The man broke away, and charged toward it.

One of the officers stopped. Henley didn’t. Hauling down the tracks, he caught up to the man, and, with the train roughly 50 feet away, pulled him to safety.

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The next night, Henley headed out for his shift.

&uot;He said what he always said,&uot; Henley’s wife, Christine, said Monday. &uot;’I love you, and I’ll see you in the morning.’&uot;

Tragically, he would never see her again.

Minutes after apprehending a suspect during a chase on Webb Street, Henley told a fellow officer he didn’t feel well. Soon after, he collapsed. He was taken to Obici Hospital, and pronounced dead of an undisclosed medical condition at 1:07 a.m. Saturday.

Henley was the first Suffolk police officer to die in the line of duty since 1935.

On Monday afternoon, surrounded by friends, family and many of Henley’s fellow officers, Christine and the couple’s four children remembered her husband.

&uot;Drew would not want us to sit around crying,&uot; she said. &uot;He was an amazing man. He loved everything about being a cop, chasing bad guys, catching bad guys. He worked hard to make the area better.&uot;

If Henley was looking down and seeing everyone, Christine thought her husband would say, &uot;’Why are you doing all this? I just did my job.’ That’s what made him such an amazing man.&uot;

On Sunday, three King’s Fork High School students came to the Henley home and told Christine how much her husband had helped them.

&uot;He touched everybody that he met in a positive way,&uot; she said. &uot;He set an example for other officers.&uot;

Even those that were his superiors, said Henley’s supervisor, Sgt. Lance Callis.

&uot;Actually, we pretty much worked on the same level,&uot; Callis said. &uot;We thought a lot alike, and he was probably a little bit classier than I was.

&uot;He was an outstanding cop, compassionate, honest, loyal to his department, his friends, and his city.&uot;

After nine years in the Marine Corps, Henley worked as a government contractor for the military before joining the Suffolk force in Oct. 2002. John Lang was his training officer.

&uot;This has been rough,&uot; Lang said, &uot;but (all the officers) are drawn together as a family and take care of each other.

&uot;A lot of officers have been willing to take over his shifts on the street. We don’t have to ask; they volunteer. Drew was an incredible guy; he always wanted to work for his community.&uot;

In May 2004, Henley was one of several police officers recognized by Police Chief William Freeman for his noteworthy performance on the job. His 11-year-old son Skyler said he might want to follow in his father’s footsteps.

&uot;I want to be a cop because my dad was a cop,&uot; Skyler said. &uot;I’ll remember him as a really good guy.&uot;