Hero Down: Wood County Sheriff's Lt. David Tennant Succumbs To Cancer

Holly Matkin

Wood County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant David Tennant served his department for 22 years.

Parkersburg, WV – Wood County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Lieutenant David Tennant died early Thursday morning, following a “tenacious” five-year battle with cancer, the sheriff said.

Lt. Tennant, 43, was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia – a blood cancer that effects bone marrow – on Aug. 4, 2014, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported.

“He was a warrior,” Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said. “He fought this cancer tenaciously for the last five years.”

On Wednesday night, Lt. Tennant returned home from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where he had been receiving treatment, after doctors determined that there was nothing more they could do to help him, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported.

Law enforcement officers from throughout the area lined up along U.S. 50 East on the route between the airport and the lieutenant’s home.

Over 50 patrol cars participated in the motorcade that escorted Lt. Tennant and his wife, Deborah, back to the community he’d served for 22 years.

The lieutenant woke up long enough along the route to see all of his brothers and sisters in blue welcoming him home, and the sight made him smile, Sheriff Stephens said.

Less than 12 hours later, the veteran deputy passed away at Camden Clark Medical Center.

“God summoned Lt. Tennant to patrol the Streets of Heaven early this morning,” the WCSO said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “Please keep Dave, Debbie and the remainder of Dave’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers through this very difficult time. God speed, Lt. David Tennant! You are already missed by many!”

The loss of the veteran deputy has been difficult for everyone who knew and loved him, Sheriff Stephens noted.

“I have seen more tears shed in this office than I’ve ever seen before,” he told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Following his diagnosis, Lt. Tennant continued working for the WCSO on light duty, and even returned to full duty at one point, Sheriff Stephens said.

He often called the office to see how thing were going on days when he was too ill to come in, the sheriff added.

“Dave worked hard up the ranks,” Sheriff Stephens said. “He was the policeman’s policeman.”

WCSO Chief Deputy Robert Sims said he joined the department less than one year after Lt. Tennant was hired, and that they worked alongside one another for the two decades that followed.

“He was one of the first ones I rode along with before I was certified,” Deputy Sims recalled. “He’d be the first one to chase after someone.”

“[He had] a very dry wit, but he could laugh with you very easily,” Deputy Sims added. “And he’d be right there with you to pick you up if you fell.”

Lt. Tennant was also a well-known, highly respected member of the WCSO, and was “one of the best vehicle crash investigators in the history of this department,” Sheriff Stephens said.

“He’s one of those guys you want on your side,” WCSO Lieutenant Rick George told WTAP. “He’s a guy that I feel emulated what we want to be as law enforcement officers. He wasn’t just a law enforcement officer as a job – it was a part of him and he lived it and he’d do anything for you.”

Wood County 911 Director Rick Woodyard, who has worked with Lt. Tennant for the past 17 years, said that the lieutenant was an inspiration to all who knew him.

“It has been said, ‘It’s not how police officers die that made them heroes, it’s how they lived,’” Woodyard wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “Lt. David Tennant, you showed us all how to live, how to fight and how to define courage. We are all a little bit better in having known you and more importantly…to have called you friend. Rest in peace brother.”

In addition to his wife, Lt. Tennant also leaves behind a son and daughter, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported.

He will be laid to rest on June 18, according to the WCSO.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Wood County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant David Tennant, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

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Rest in peace, Lieutenant Tennant. May God be with your family, both blood and blue. Thank you for over 20 years of service to your community.

Fallen Heroes