DETROIT (WJBK) - What caused a 4-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department to crash his car into a utility pole Thursday morning? That question still isn't known as police are still investigating what happened to James Hearn and his fiance.
Hearn, 27, was off duty and driving on Woodward Avenue. His 26-year-old fiance, Ashley Dalton, and his 11-year-old daughter Anayah were both in the car with him when she suddenly lost control and crashed into a pole. Hearn and Dalton were both killed in the crashed. Anayah was asleep in the backseat and survived. She has a fractured rib but is otherwise okay.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig remembered Hearn for his dedication to the job.
"James is what I would call the ultimate community police officer. He loved his job," Craig said.
He said Hearn was only with the department for 4 and a half years but made a big impact. He was doing what he always wanted to do: follow in the steps of his father who spent 30 years with Detroit Police before retiring
"James was also awarded a life-saving citation during his brief career," Craig said. "He saved a life from a burning building. I don't know too many police officers, myself included, that like to go into burning structures."
Beyond his heroism on the job, it was his commitment to the community that also made a difference. He was involved with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and he and Anayah were involved in their Team Up summer leadership camp at Winans Academy. They had spent the day there on Wednesday before going fishing Wednesday night with Dalton. Their little baby, Collin, was with relatives.
"Just yesterday they were talking about how he was just thinking about how he couldn't think of any better place to be than being with the kids and impacting them and encouraging some of our officers that were there," said Robert Jamerson, COO of PAL.
PAL brought in counselors for staff and children at the camp.
Hearn was also the drummer for the band at Peace and Goodwill Baptist Church. His pastor says they'll never be the same.
"If there's such a thing as someone making a difference in the world, it was James. He definitely made a difference," Pastor Mark Holloway said.
Dalton was also a member of the church. Her brother, Sean, says he just saw the family Wednesday before they went fishing.
"They were in love," Sean said. "I'm in disbelief. We're all in disbelief right now."
Sean says he believes Hearn may have fallen asleep at the wheel but police are still investigating.