Baltimoreans hear a lot about city police officers when they do something wrong. But recently, one Baltimore resident, Dawson Nolley, wanted to get the word out about an instance where an officer was a hero to his family.
The officer, Pierre Dolcine, was “exactly what we needed and infinitely more than we could have hoped for,” after a severe car accident, Nolley wrote in a letter that he sent this month to Mayor Catherine Pugh, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and other commanding officers in the police department.
Nolley said the accident occurred earlier this month at the intersection of Loch Raven Boulevard and Northern Parkway. He wrote that his wife, Jennifer, and two daughters, Elizabeth, 3, and Kathryn, nine months, were hit by another car, which sent their vehicle airborne into a lamp post.
The Nolleys avoided serious injury, despite the “‘violent nature of the crash,” he wrote. But they still needed help after the accident, and that’s where Officer Dolcine stepped in.
Here is their story as told in Nolley’s April 22 letter, which was addressed to Northeast District Major Milton Snead:
Two weeks ago, my wife Jennifer and our two daughters, Elizabeth (3 years) and Kathryn (9 months), were in a severe car accident. Miraculously, all three avoided any serious physical injury despite the violent nature of the crash. At the corner of Loch Raven and Northern Parkway, a speeding car lost control and struck my wife’s car sending it through a lamp post, airborne into a tree.
After I got to the site of the accident and found everyone to be okay, although the panicked fear of possible catastrophe was gone, my anxiety level was still through the roof. The damage was dramatic. The other car was suspended upon a cement stair case, the lamp post was on its side, my wife’s headlight and license plate were embedded in the trunk of a tree that was almost thirty feet from where her car ultimately landed and the car was destroyed, air bags deployed; it was startling. A witness told me that after the accident, he was scared to approach the car because he was certain that no one in the car could have survived.
Once I calmed and accepted that everyone was physically “okay”, my attention turned to the psychological and emotional stress that Elizabeth was most likely processing. At three years old, she is certainly not equipped to understand the randomness, the chaos and what must have been her mom’s pure terror during those moments after the impact. She, like all of us, was struggling to understand what had happened and what needed to happen. It was during our most desperate moment when one of your officers appeared…. Let me tell you about Officer Dolcine.
Office Dolcine was exactly what we needed and infinitely more than we could have hoped for. He was present, he was sincere, and he was genuinely concerned. He was helpful, not just to Jennifer and me, but to Elizabeth. Within seconds, he had her smiling and laughing. He made her comfortable with the EMT’s and the ambulance; he made her excited about a ride to the hospital. We had no idea what to expect so we followed his direction. Jennifer and the girls rode down to the pediatric ER at Hopkins, I met them there. While Officer Dolcine stayed back to process the scene, we were sitting in an examination room for nearly three hours waiting for the girls to be checked out.
At around 9:30PM, way past her bedtime, and eight hours since she had eaten, it seemed that Elizabeth’s adrenaline was fading and that she was not far from completely falling apart. With impeccable timing, Officer Dolcine entered with a giant smile and presented her with a stuffed animal, a big bunny rabbit obviously just purchased at the CVS near the hospital. Elizabeth lit up. He talked to her and he praised her patience and for the second time in several hours, he transformed her horrible experience into a pleasant one. Not too long after he left us, Elizabeth started asking about him.
An hour later, the girls were finishing up in the pediatric ward but Jennifer still had to wait for her own examination in the adult ER. She bumped into Officer Dolcine and lovingly shared that Elizabeth had [been] asking about him. He quickly replied, “I’m going to go find her” as he headed back to the pediatric ward. Like a guardian angel, he appeared before Lizzie (who was beyond exhausted) and recognizing her plummeting morale, he invited her to see the lights on his police car. Once again, she lit up. He led us to his car in the ER service lot where he sounded the sirens and flashed the lights; it was as if he had taken her to Disney World. It was awesome.
What started around 6PM ended close to 1AM. The next morning and for the last two weeks, when Elizabeth talks about that evening, she pretty much only talks about Officer Dolcine. As I said, what could have been a deeply troubling moment, at a very formative time, is now a cherished memory.
Another thing: the following Sunday, my wife and I were busy resolving all of accident’s practical fall-out: buying new car seats, renting a car, dealing with insurance companies, etc. Throughout the day, my wife’s cellphone kept getting calls from a strange number. After the fifth call, she finally answered. It was Officer Dolcine. He not only wanted to check on Elizabeth but he wanted to make sure we were able to get a copy of the Police Report for the insurance company before his two days off. What a guy, right?
I know this has been a long and unnecessarily detailed letter. You can probably tell that I have strong feelings when it comes to this event and the person that helped us through it. I am writing this with the hope that Officer Dolcine enjoys some much-deserved recognition, be it a pat on the back or maybe some formal acknowledgement from a superior. I’m also writing this because in recent times, it feels like the popular discussion favors instances of wrong-doing and mistakes while acts of kindness and professional selflessness, like those of Officer Dolcine, remain unspoken. My wife and I are forever grateful to Officer Dolcine. We are not only grateful for his help but also for the way he demonstrated exemplary conduct for
CC: Captain Jeffrey Shorter, Commissioner Kevin Davis, Catherine Pugh, Mayor
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