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Winter Haven store honors fallen friend, deputy | People

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Winter Haven store honors fallen friend, deputy
Winter Haven store honors fallen friend, deputy

Winter Haven, Florida -  The Winter Haven 7-11 store where a Polk County Sergeant Wes Whitmore was killed in the line of duty will now honor his memory.

On Sunday, December 12, 2010, 15-year PCSO veteran Sergeant Wes Whitmore died in the line of duty when he was making a traffic stop.  His patrol car was struck by an out-of-control SUV that careened through the parking lot of the 7-11 store located at 4000 Recker Highway, at the intersection of Recker Highway and Spirit Lake Road.

The store is a franchise owned and operated by Douglas Bryant. Mr. Bryant and his staff have always had a close working relationship with the PCSO members who frequent the store - it is located approximately half of a mile from the PCSO Central District substation.  Mr. Bryant and Sergeant Whitmore also had what he describes as more of a "friendship, not just a working relationship." And on the day that Wes died, Mr. Bryant and the 7-11 employees grieved along with PCSO members and the Whitmore family.

Together, deputies and 7-11 employees came up with a way to honor Wes' memory.   The district manager for the store, John Womack, insisted on commissioning and paying for a bronze plaque to be placed on the outside wall of the store near where Wes was killed.  The plaque's design is a collaborative effort of Wes' family, PCSO members, and the 7-11 employees.

"The people in the community, at this store, and our PCSO family members have been grieving since December 12th for the loss of a great man and a great friend, and have had the desire for something to be placed at the store to honor his memory," said Sheriff Grady Judd.  "We are truly humbled by the generosity of the 7-11 employees and managers, who insisted on fully funding this project. Now everyone who visits this store will never forget how Wes died doing what he loved, for the community that he loved."

The plaque will be unveiled by Mrs. Sherry Whitmore in a ceremony including Sheriff Judd, District Manager John Womack, store owner Douglas Bryant, PCSO members, and 7-11 employees, on April 5, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. 


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