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
windshield.

Was Lieutenant

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.

Get Assignment

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.

Frees Self

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 freeing himself.

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 … we're hit."

Pickup Spotted

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?" Only silence.

The command post knew V-54s assignment area, and at 10:45 a.m. asked for an ambulance from Durant.

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 Young's car.

The aircraft began calling for any patrolmen in the Caddo area. Hughes and Grimes answered.

Locate Car

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 … turn right, turn right.

"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.

"They're shooting."

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.

Hughes Wounded

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 down."

They couldn't have cared less about the killers.

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