It’s always hard to return to normalcy after the death of a loved one, but it’s especially difficult for young children.
On Monday, 5-year-old Dakota Pitts returned to school just over a week after his father, a patrolman with the Terre Haute Police Department, was killed in the line of duty. But he was far from alone on his walk into class.
In the week since his father’s death, young Dakota has spent much of his time outside the department where his dad worked and grieving at his memorial. It’s been a rough week, but Dakota gave his mom a message that he hopes his father will hear in heaven: “Dad, I love you and I miss you so much.”
After taking the time to grieve, Dakota finally returned to school.
But he didn’t want to go alone, so he asked his mom if one of his dad’s friends could escort him on his first day back. Mom took that idea and ran with it…
The scene outside Sullivan Elementary School that morning was incredibly powerful: 70 officers lined the sidewalk leading to the front doors.
Dakota’s mom started spreading the word about her son’s first day back to school after his dad’s tragic death, prompting a flood of support from the 16-year veteran’s coworkers as well as officers from nearby agencies.
They all stood at attention as Dakota slowly walked toward the front doors, his dad’s badge hanging proudly around his neck. When he neared the front of the line, he was presented with his own SWAT T-shirt and badge, and the promise that his dad’s brothers and sisters in blue would always be there for him.
A student’s first day back at school after such a devastating loss is incredibly difficult, acknowledged Samantha Phegley, the school’s principal.
Having the support of Rob’s police family helped Dakota take those first few steps. Our hope is that Dakota’s first day back to school after his father’s passing is one that he will remember forever and that he will always know how much his father’s sacrifice meant to all of us.
Watch the moving scene as Dakota walks up to the school in the video below, and share to spread thanks for the incredible compassion shown by his father’s coworkers and friends.
Police officers from Terre Haute, and Vigo and Sullivan counties, lined up outside Sullivan Elementary School today to welcome Dakota Pitts, whose father, Terre Haute Police Officer Rob Pitts, was killed in the line of duty on May 4.(Video provided by Sullivan Elementary School Principal Samantha Phegley)
Posted by Tribune Star on Monday, May 14, 2018