GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – The patrol car of Deputy Sam Brownlee, killed in the line of duty in 2010, was to be auctioned off outside the Weld County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday night.
It’s not unusual for an out-of-service patrol car to be auctioned off, typically becoming a cab or security company car. But Brownlee’s car was something special.
“We wanted to remember this car and the deputy who drove it in a little different fashion,” said Sheriff Steve Reams.
But when rain moved in, the outdoor auction plans changed. Now inside, Tanner Brownlee planned to bid on his fallen father’s car.
“This is a lot for a 19-year-old,” Tanner said to his friends before the auction began.
As bids rolled in and the price soared higher than Tanner could afford, plans changed once again.
“Oh well, we tried,” he said.
In the back of the room stood Steve Wells, who had a plan of his own.
“Sold it your way, Mr. Steve Wells, thank you very much. $60,000!” announced the auctioneer.
Upon being handed the keys, Wells turned and said, “Tanner. Here is your car.”
The room applauded and cheered as Tanner got up to hug Wells.
“This is just so huge. I mean, me and my dad built a fence and stuff, but having something I can use, and drive around that he drove around, it just means a lot,” Tanner said.
With his brother Chase at his side, Tanner Brownlee unlocked his father’s car, and drove it home one more time.
“It just, it means so much to me. I thank everyone for that,” said Tanner.
Between the $60,000 bid from local rancher Mr. Wells, the money Tanner Brownlee had, and other donations, $70,000 was raised for a charity that helps families of fallen police officers — the same charity that helped the Brownlee family.