Remembering Sergeant Willis Hugh Purdy

Please take a moment to include Sergeant Willis Hugh Purdy in your thoughts today.

Sergeant Purdy had finished his shift July 31, 1976 when dispatchers informed him of severe weather problems in the Big Thompson Canyon, west of Loveland. As Purdy proceeded into the canyon, he ordered evacuation in the lower areas below the canyon, a decision that saved hundreds of lives. Purdy encountered the torrent coming from the Devil’s Gulch tributary of the Big Thompson River and was attempting to turn himself and others away from it. Purdy’s last words to dispatch were at 9:15 p.m. Purdy was found on a sandbar eight miles below the point where he was last seen. Purdy’s patrol car was found two miles east of Drake at the bottom of a pile of eight cars. The only identifiable object was the metal tag on the key ring, still in the ignition.

Purdy entered the Patrol May 22, 1950.

(Information provided by the Colorado State Patrol Alumni Association.)

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