Durant (Okla.) Daily Democrat, Sunday, May 28, 1978
It Cost Them Their Lives -- Grimes, Summers, Young,
Hard Working, Dedicated
Highway patrolmen Pat Grimes, Houston (Pappy) Summers and William Young worked hard the
last day of their lives.
Summers, 62, was stationed at Enid, about ready for retirement. He had worn the brown
uniform of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for 32 years.
Young, 50, was a close friend he had been stationed at nearby Woodward most of his
25-year patrol career.
They no longer pulled a regular patrolman's shift. They were assigned to the vehicle
inspection division, helping and riding herd on garages and service stations that paste
those inspection stickers on your
Grimes, a patrol lieutenant, was 36. He worked at Sand Springs for a time, and had been
living at Moore.
It had been a long haul for Summers.
He was on the other side of Beaver, in the panhandle, when he got orders to join the
search for Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster in Bryan county. He was about as far from
here as he could be and still be in Oklahoma.
Summer headed out at 7 a.m. Thursday, picking up Young at Woodward. It took 12 hours to
make the drive to Durant.
They slept, and drew their assignment Friday morning at the OHP command post, a
self-contained trailer that had been set up at Fort Washita.
They were to be one of the moving patrol units, covering a 13-mile loop from the SH 22-48
intersection near Kenefic to Caddo, dropping a mile south and running back to SH 48 on a
graveled country road.
They had covered the distance several times when they met a blue pickup truck coming at
them from the west. It had been taken minutes before from rancher Russell Washington's
home, four miles away.
The fugitives had tied up Washington and a ranch hand. The patrol car and pickup
approached each other just about the time Washington was calling the highway patrol after
The officers apparently didn't know what they were running into: they didn't have time to
pick up a microphone and radio for help.
Dennis and Lancaster leveled down at their patrol car. They put seven bullet holes in the
windshield on the driver's side, an area not much bigger than a dinner plate. Three more
slugs hit the hood of the patrol car. Glass in the back window and the door on the right
side, found open, was shattered. A can of insect repellent lay on the back seat.
One of the officers had managed to get out a brief radio message: "V-54
A patrol aircraft piloted by Lt. Lloyd Basinger with trooper Dave Blackburn, Atoka, riding
as observer, picked it up. They radioed back to find out the location. There was no reply.
"Victor-54, can you read?" Silence. Again, "Victor-54, can you read?"
The command post knew V-54s assignment area, and at 10:45 a.m. asked for an ambulance from
It was ordered to the SH 22-48 intersection west of Kenefic and told to wait there until
officers came to show it where to go. No one knew yet were V-54 was it was after
the last shot was fired in Caddo that anyone came.
Basinger and Blackburn spotted the pickup truck moving east on the county road at a high
rate of speed, within three miles of Caddo and already a mile or more from Summers and
The aircraft began calling for any patrolmen in the Caddo area. Hughes and Grimes
Lt. Grimes and Hughes reached town almost the same time the pickup did. Blackburn spotted
their blue-gray unmarked car.
"Okay, come on into town," came a message from the airborne officers. "Go
south on the next block. . ."
Seconds later: "You're going to meet him almost at the intersection no, he's
turning into a house.
"Next block now next block up, next block up.
"This might not be the one but he pulled into a house there
"All right, all right, the first house blue pickup right in the driveway
there's a bunch of people running, I don't know what they're doing.
The troopers' car couldn't or didn't stop. They couldn't see the truck for a
row of trees and bushes.
As they rolled up to the Ernest Slack residence their patrol car stopped just before
pulling even with the pickup. As one of the officers started to get out of the car, Dennis
and Lancaster opened fire. Their guns stitched a row of seven holes on the passenger's
side, where Grimes was riding.
Grimes fell into the street; Hughes grabbed him by the belt, heaved him back inside,
pulled the car down the road and stopped it in a ditch.
Although wounded in the hand and shoulder, Hughes returned the fire.
Grimes, one of the patrol's up-and-comers, was dead.
He was assigned to the OHP's internal affairs division.
Like Summers and Young, Grimes was among the second wave of troopers brought in to help
with the search for Dennis and Lancaster.
He was in Lawton Thursday, testifying about the Jan. 23 wounding of highway patrolman
Louis Chase by Jerrald Sanders. He'd already left Lawton when the jury came back: 45 years
for Sanders. Grimes had headed the patrol's part of the investigation into that shooting.
In Caddo, the patrol aircraft guided three other approaching cars to the Slack home. The
final gunbattle lasted about 30 seconds, as nearly as anyone can tell ("It sounded
like war," one witness said). Dennis lay dead in the driveway, Lancaster was 15 feet
away and dying.
"Get an ambulance," said the aircraft radio, "we've got a trooper
They couldn't have cared less about the killers.