Hero Down: RPD Officer Kenneth Lester Dies Of Injuries Suffered In On-Duty Crash
Indianapolis, IN – Retired Richmond Police Department (RPD) Officer Kenneth Reid Lester died in the line of duty on Feb. 10, nearly 25 years to the day after he suffered career-ending injuries while responding to an alarm call.
Officer Lester was traveling southbound on Eighth Street on Feb. 17, 1995, when a semi-tractor trailer traveling next to him turned and slammed into his patrol vehicle, the Palladium-Item reported.
Officer Lester’s patrol vehicle became trapped beneath the trailer, resulting in severe internal injuries and head trauma, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
His partner, K9 Cheri, also suffered minor injuries during the collision, the Palladium-Item reported.
The devastating crash ended Officer Lester’s 14-year law enforcement career.
For the next 25 years, he required around-the-clock care, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 62-year-old retired officer died at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital on Feb. 10 due to complications from the injuries he suffered during the collision, the Palladium-Item reported.
His longtime friend, RPD Officer Aaron Stevens, said he pulled over and broke down crying when he received the call that Officer Lester had passed away.
"He loved his kids. He loved his wife,” Officer Stevens said of his friend and mentor. “He loved his K9 partner, Cheri. He loved his job.”
“I learned a lot from him," Officer Stevens told the Palladium-Item. "I learned how to be lighthearted when it required it, to be professional and also to be stern when necessary."
RPD Major Jon Bales said that the department will remember Officer Lester with fondness.
He described the veteran officer as a “mountain of a man” who weighed over 275 pounds and stood six-foot, four-inches tall.
"He was not a small person, but he had a huge heart," Officer Stevens agreed. "It would be easy for anyone to lose sight of how humane and personable he was because you could get lost in his size and his stature.”
Maj. Bales said that Officer Lester’s death serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices law enforcement officers make.
"It's a reminder that this is a dangerous profession," the major told the Palladium-Item. "Officers across the country make the ultimate sacrifice on a daily basis.”
“He was a respected officer by the community and his peers who had an unfortunate accident,” Maj. Bales said. “It’s a sad time for the department.”
Officer Lester, the son of an Indiana state trooper, received many commendations and awards during his years of service, according to his obituary.
He leaves behind his wife of 41 years, Polly, as well as his son, Andrew, and his daughter, Kendra.
Officer Lester is also survived by his sisters, uncle, nephews, nieces, cousins, and many friends.
He was laid to rest on Feb. 15.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of retired Richmond Police Department Officer Kenneth Reid Lester, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.