The two brothers don’t have much to remember their day by, barring a few photographs and memories. Tanner was just 15 when his dad, Weld County Deputy Sam Brownlee was killed in the line of duty after a police chase in 2010.
Five years later, Tanner and his brother Chase, were hoping to get one of their dad’s prized possessions, that just happened to be coming up for auction through the Weld County Sheriff’s office.
“It’d mean a lot to me and my brother. We’ve been through a lot,” said Tanner.
The Sheriff’s Office was auctioning off their dad’s Dodge Charger on Wednesday night. The vehicle has 147,000 miles on the odometer and was being sold to raise money for C.O.P.S. – Concerns of Police Survivors, an organization providing services for survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
“If we do get it tonight, I kind of hope my mom will let me drive it around tonight,” Tanner said before the auction.
“This is kind of the end of Sam’s legacy here. It’s the last tangible thing we have that he was connected to,” said Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams.
Tanner even took the time to start a GoFundMe page to help raise money to bid on the car, which was just a bit mor than $3,000 when the auction started, although he didn’t reveal exactly how much he had to spend, but claimed to have had a plan.
“I think I’m just going to look around, see what everyone else is doing and try to copy them,” said Tanner. “Just up them by one.”
As soon as the auction started, Tanner up the first bid to $2,500, but within minutes, the bids were beyond Kelly Blue Book value of $12,500.
“I think if it goes passed the limit we have, I just have to hope that someone has it in their heart to win the car and give it to me and my brother. We don’t really have a backup plan,” said Tanner.
The bids began to reach astronomical amounts for the Dodge Charger, reaching $50,000, and it was apparently obvious that Tanner’s limit had been matched and exceeded.
“60! Sold it your way, Mr. Steve Wells. Thank you very much,” said the auctioneer.
The Police cruiser sold for an astounding $60,000 to a local rancher. The boys didn’t know Wells before that night, but they won’t be able to forget him now, because as soon as the auctioneer handed Wells the keys to his new purchase, he turned to Tanner and said; “Tanner, here’s your car.”
Marshall Zelinger, a reporter with local 7NEWS asked Tanner; “”You had no idea that guy in the back was bidding and was going to hand you the keys?”
“Nope. I shook his hand and I didn’t know,” said Tanner. “It means so much to me.”
Tanner has already stated that the money he raised through his GoFundMe account was going to be donated to C.O.P.S.
Zelinger tried to get an interview with the new benefactor, and said he even considered the interview for a moment, until he watched Tanner get behind the wheel of his daddy’s car, and simply replied that he didn’t want to take away from that moment.
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef.
Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak.
“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air.” ~ John Quincy Adams