Memorial to Terrell M. Dodson

End of Watch: April 17, 1960
Rank: Officer   Badge No. 602
Age: 29   Years of Service: 5 years
Location of Death:  7th Street and Florida Avenue, NE
Duty Assignment:  Motorcycle Officer, Traffic Division

 

Circumstance:

Officer Terrell Dodson was killed in a motorcycle accident while chasing a speeding vehicle on Florida Avenue, NE, at approximately 4:00 am. During the pursuit, Officer Dodson’s motorcycle struck a streetcar loading platform at the intersection with 7th Street, NE. His motorcycle went out of control and crashed near 8th Street, NE.

 

Biography:
Officer Dodson had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for five years. He was survived by his wife June and 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter Mary Joy of Halley Terrace SE. He was a veteran of the United States Air Force.

 

Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
OFFICER DODSON STRUCK A LIGHT POLE WHILE CHASING A SPEEDER.

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 18, 1960, PAGE 1
MOTORCYCLE POLICEMAN KILLED WHILE CHASING CAR IS 29TH TRAFFIC VICTIM

License Plate Leads to Suspect
A District motorcycle policeman chasing a speeding auto along Florida Ave. NE, was killed early yesterday when he hit a streetcar loading platform at 7th St., lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a light post near 8th St.
Police said Pvt. Terrell M. Dodson, 29, and Pvt. Charles Varney were sitting on their cycles on Florida Ave. at about 4 a.m. when they saw several cars flash past heading east.

Dodson gave chase, police said, while Varney, less experienced, followed out of sight. When Varney reached the 700 block of Florida, they said, he found his friend dead.

Accident Investigation Unit Det. Edwin O’Callahan said a District license plate found at the streetcar loading platform where the warning sign had been sheared off, led them to the home of William J. Kurtz, 31, at 443 Irving St. NW
Kurtz was arrested at 5:15 a.m. on charges of colliding, leaving the scene after an accident, unreasonable speed, driving without a District driver’s license, and driving while drunk. He was arraigned in Municipal Court on a charge of manslaughter and bond was set at $5000. The case was continued to April 27.

O’Callahan said Kurtz told police he was home at the time of the tragedy. He reported Kurtz as saying he had lost the license plate earlier but hadn’t searched for it because of heavy traffic on Florida Ave.

The detective said laboratory checks would be made on Kurtz’s auto and the wrecked motorcycle to see whether they had collided.

Dodson was the city’s 29th traffic death of the year compared with 20 at this point in 1959 and 63 all last year.

This toll is “something to be very concerned about,” said Police Chief Robert V. Murray yesterday. He promised to study the situation intensively to see what steps could be taken immediately to curb the fatality record.

Pointing out that there have been several deaths and injuries among motorcycle policemen, Murray said he was “giving a lot of thought to reducing the motorcycle force here” and transferring the men into safer squad cars.

The dead policeman leaves his wife, June, and their 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Mary Joy, of 4328 Halley Terrace SE

He joined the police force in 1955 after he was mustered out of the Air Force.

He became a motorcycle officer in May 1959, Mrs. Dodson said. She remembered: “He was always happy as a policeman but was especially happy about being a motorcycle officer.”

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WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED APRIL 28, 1960, PAGE B6.
Driver Cleared of Policeman’s Traffic Death

William J. Kurtz, 31, of 443 Irving St. NW, was freed in Municipal Court yesterday of a manslaughter charge in the Easter Sunday death of traffic division Pvt. Terrell M. Dodson.

Dodson was killed when his motorcycle struck a streetcar platform at 7th St. and Florida Ave. NE as he chased a speeder.

Kurtz was traced through a license tag found at the scene, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond F. McKeown Jr. Said laboratory tests on Kurtz’s car showed it did not come into contact with the motorcycle.

McKeown said the tag apparently was lost during an accident earlier in the day. Kurtz steadfastly maintained he was home at the time of the fatal crash.

Four traffic charges are still pending against Kurtz, based on the earlier accident. Judge Thomas C. Scalley continued the case until June 8 and set bond at $300.

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THIS BRINGS THE TOTAL SO FAR TO 13 MOTORCYCLE OFFICERS KILLED WHILE RIDING THEIR BIKES.