TOWN CREEK, Ala. (WHNT) - We've learned much more about the death early Wednesday morning of Town Creek Police Officer Roger Odell. He had just located two missing teenagers when he apparently suffered a fatal heart attack. Thinking Officer Odell had been shot, one of the teens made a frantic effort to reach the patrol car's radio and call for help.
Officer Roger Odell had just placed the two runaway teenaged girls in the back of his patrol car. As he walked away from the car to retrieve their belongings, he collapsed. The two girls thought that he'd been shot. One of them managed to get through the partition separating the front seat from the back seat in his patrol car and reached down and got his radio to call for help.
A recording of that frantic call was made available to WHNT News 19 by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office. Some of it is garbled by background noise, but the fear in the girl's voice is as unmistakable as the calm resolve of the police dispatcher on the other end of the radio.
(GIRL) "Ma'am, ma'am, ma'am are you there?"
(GIRL) "We seen someone just shoot the police officer and we're by ourselves and we don't know what to do."
Odell was rushed to the hospital, but efforts to revive him were not successful. As we visited Town Creek and Courtland, where Odell had served as police chief, his friends and co-workers remember the man behind the badge.
Robin Brackin works in Courtland's Town Hall where Odell had stopped by for a brief visit just days before his death. "I was in shock, it was heartbreaking. Roger was just a good guy, a good Christian guy but he always went out of his way to make everybody feel better, even on a bad day," Brackin explained.
Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett tells WHNT News 19 he and Odell were much more than co-workers. "He was a great friend, more than anything else, he was my friend. He was the kind of police officer you want all officers to be but more than that, he was my friend, and I'm going to miss him," Chief Garrett said.
Tonight the flags fly at half-staff at Town Creek City Hall. There are wreaths on the front door, and several signs around the small town like this one.
Roger Odell leaves behind a wife and four children and two communities, heartbroken but grateful for his many years of faithful service.
Visitation for Officer Odell will be Saturday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.at Jackson Memory Funeral Home in Town Creek. His funeral is scheduled for 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon.