Early morning of Sept. 6, 1995, my husband, Master Trooper
Dean Goodheart, was conducting a roadside safety inspection on a semi on
eastbound I-70. During the inspection, he stepped down from the driver’s door
of the semi cab and was struck and instantly killed by a passing motorist. The
driver that killed my husband had been driving all night to return to college
in Colby. Sleepy drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers! If she had moved
over to the far lane, I believe he would be with us today.
On that day, our family was changed forever! I lost my
husband and best friend of 15 years. My children and grandchildren lost a great
father, grandfather and mentor. He is missed by family, friends and co-workers.
Dean joined the Kansas Highway Patrol in 1972. He enjoyed
his job and the people he worked with. He knew the dangers when he chose this
profession but loved helping people.After 23 years of service to the citizens of the state of Kansas and the
Kansas Highway Patrol, we had been looking forward to Dean retiring and
spending time with family and traveling.
Dean was just 49 years-old at the time of his death. We had
three grandsons and were expecting our first granddaughter. My two
granddaughters never got to meet their Grandad, and he did not get to enjoy
them growing up. We now have great-grandchildren. Dean is greatly missed at all
functions of our life - graduations, weddings, holidays and school activities.
In 2000, House Bill 2641 was signed into law requiring
drivers to “Slow Down and Move Over” near stopped emergency vehicles. This bill
is known by many as the “Goodheart Law” and has reduced the number of emergency
vehicles and officers being struck. The Goodheart Law was amended during the
2006 legislative session to incorporate roadside crews, such as the Patrol's
Motorist Assistance Technicians and the Kansas Department of Transportation's
highway road crews. The amendment requires traffic on four-lane highways to
move away from vehicles engaged in highway construction or maintenance
operations when those vehicles are displaying an amber flashing light.
Because of this tragedy, we became active with National
Concerns of Police Survivors. In March 2001, some of our Kansas survivors and
myself were instrumental in starting a Kansas chapter to be there for other
survivors. Kansas Concerns of Police Survivors supports families of officers
killed in the line of duty.
On May 8, 2018, Gov. Jeff Colyer signed SB 375 into law
designating memorial highways across Kansas to honor the sacrifice our fallen
officers have made. SB 375 was unanimously passed by both the House and Senate
before its adoption. My husband Dean’s marker is located on Highway 83 near
Colby. As you pass these highway markers, please remember to give all first
responders and road crews room to work so they may go home to their families at
the end of their shift!
It has been 23 years since we lost Dean, and a day doesn’t
go by that I don’t think about him. He is greatly missed by me, his children
and the grandchildren who missed an opportunity to grow up with such a great
Goodheart, wife of Master Trooper Dean Goodheart, lives in Lawrence.