GARDNER, Kan. — In addition to the national day of remembrance, September 11th also is a particularly painful day for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
Two years ago on this day, Master Deputy Brandon Collins was killed in the line of duty.
Now, a memorial has been created for all fallen deputies in Johnson County.
Elected leaders and law enforcement from across Kansas dedicated the new monument to the sheriff’s fallen heroes.
This tribute is the creation of 16-year-old Luke Gwartney, an Olathe West High School student who was moved by Collins’ death and decided to take on the memorial as his Eagle Scout project.
Collins died September 11, 2016 after an illegal immigrant, drunk behind the wheel of a pick up truck, slammed into the back of Collins’ patrol car, causing a fiery explosion. Collins had just stopped another vehicle for a traffic violation along 69 Highway.
Collins’ mother spoke publicly for the first time to thank all those involved for creating the memorial.
“This is something that a mother will never get over,” said Jana Ostrander, Collins’ mother. “They tell me it will get easier, but so far not so much. But I just am thankful for everything the Johnson County deputies and the sheriff, and everybody has done for our family. This is just another nice thing.”
Gwartney raised more than $8,000 for the memorial, accepting donations outside Bass Pro Shops in Olathe, Kan. Many other firms donated labor and materials for the project, which also honors two other deputies killed in the line of duty: Sgt. Willard Carver and Det. Gerald Foote.
The man who killed Collins currently is serving a 12 year sentence in prison after which time he’s expected to be deported. Gwartney says he’s happy knowing Collins’ service and that of the other deputies will never be forgotten, thanks to the monument.