Memorial dedicated for OSUPD officer killed in 1992
Friday, June 28, 2019
A crowd of family, friends and 18 uniformed police officers gathered at a turnout along State Highway 51C to dedicate a new memorial to former Oklahoma State University Police Officer Brent Daniel. On May 14, 1992, Daniel and his girlfriend, Shelly Manley (now Whiting), were on his motorcycle on the road when they were struck from behind by a drunk driver. Daniel was killed, and his girlfriend was critically injured.
When she got out of the hospital, Whiting and her father erected a wooden cross at the location. On Saturday, a metal cross with a horizontal blue line and a large replica of Daniel’s badge in the center was unveiled, replacing the weathered wooden piece.
OSUPD Chief Leon Jones recognized those responsible for the memorial, including Sgt. Leah Storm, who shepherded the project and organized the memorial. Jones also thanked Susan Henry, a lake resident who spearheaded fundraising and Lake Carl Blackwell manager Brian Brinker and his staff for building a turnout for visitors to safely stop at the memorial.
“We hope this memorial serves two purposes. One is to keep the memory of Brent alive so he can continue to touch lives,” Jones said. “And two, if people drive by and see this, it lets them know the dangers of drunk driving and the lasting effects DUI crashes have on victims, family and friends.”
Brent’s brother Brian Daniel acknowledged the life events that have passed in 27 years, the births of children and the losses of other family members. His wife knew Brent, but his children know him only through stories. His hope is that those who see the memorial will pause for a moment to understand the implications of drinking and driving.
“We are all victims as well,” he said, addressing the crowd Saturday. “We’re victims of a choice one person made. Someone who makes a choice to drink and drive takes the risk that they can make a lot of victims.”
Whiting was hospitalized during Daniel’s funeral. Saturday’s event was the first public remembrance she was able to attend. She thanked the Lake Carl Blackwell staff for taking care of the previous memorial and making provisions for the new one. She recognized the “sweet lake family” who were willing to raise funds to replace the original cross with a permanent marker and the OSUPD for their work in putting it all together, particularly Storm.
“She worked with her heart and made it look easy,” Whiting said.
Whiting remembered that Daniel said he wanted to make a difference, for people to know who he was, to know what he stood for and to remember him.
“And so I look around and 27 years later, it looks like he’s remembered. It looks like he’s still making a difference, and with this memorial, he will continue to touch people’s lives,” she said. “He will continue to make a difference.”
OHP Trooper Steve Burrows was the last to speak. A friend of Daniel’s, he was the first to arrive at the crash. He spoke of Daniel’s mischievous nature and his dedication to being the best at anything he tried. The OSUPD and intern Smokey Solis made an educational video interviewing Burrows and Whiting about the long-term consequences of drunk driving.
“It wasn’t until Smokey asked me how I felt that it finally hit me,” Burrows said. “There are always questions. Why did this happen? How did this happen? Questions that have no answers. What we’re left with is trying to comprehend and trying to make some sense of it all from a senseless act. But in the end, I feel exactly as I did 27 years ago: I just miss my friend.”
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