Former Lawrence police captain Ronald Plourde said he was injured in the line of duty on May 17, 2006, during that year’s record-breaking spring floods.
According to Plourde’s account, he was touring the streets of Lawrence with other emergency personnel and a television news crew when their National Guard transport truck plunged into a sinkhole concealed by flood water.
The passengers went flying, and Plourde, who was standing toward the rear of the truck, was flung partway through the truck’s canvas top and down again, breaking two ribs and injuring his shoulder and knees.
The Guardsman at the wheel maneuvered the 5-ton, six-wheeled truck up the side of the sinkhole, Plourde recalled, and out of 6 feet of water.
“The driver had just got back from Iraq,” Plourde recalled. “He was an incredible driver. He saved our lives.”
Plourde, who joined the Lawrence force in 1985, took disability leave during three surgeries to repair his shoulder. In 2009, two years from qualifying for a full retirement, he said, he realized he would never be able to return to duty. His retirement was granted in June 2010.