HOUSTON - It was on Christmas Eve when she was killed. Now fallen Houston Police Officer Dawn Erickson is being honored and remembered in a special way. An HPD Lake Patrol boat has been named after her.
So often when someone dies, we say they're 'gone but not forgotten', and loved ones are left grieving and remembering alone. That isn't the case here.
"It's such an honor to have her remembered," says Officer Erickson's mother Beth Erickson-Lowe, who broke open a bottle of champagne on the Dawn S. Erickson to christen the vessel.
"It's just an honor for her to be able to be here still with everybody, just protecting everybody like she dreamed of," says Chris Erickson, who remembers when his big sister joined the force in 1995. Just four months out of the Houston Police Academy, Officer Erickson was directing traffic when she was hit by a car and killed on Christmas Eve.
"The first couple years, I wanted Christmas Eve to be met in the cemetery, which is difficult when you have grandchildren they look at you and go, 'OK, what is all this?'" explains Officer Erickson's mom.
Officer Erickson was only 22 years old when she died.
"She was so brave to go out there and protect the citizens of Houston and gave the ultimate sacrifice. I remember when that happened. I was in high school and she inspired me," says HPD Commander Elizabeth Lorenzana.
"You know it just feels like yesterday. It hurt back then. It still hurts now. We miss her," adds HPD Assistant Chief Henry Gaw who was in the academy with Officer Erickson.
A special tribute for a special officer whose legacy lives on in HPD's Lake Patrol Division.
"It's something that Dawn would just absolutely love because she was all about helping people," says her mom.
"She’s in a place that someday her mom and dad will see her again. Until then, now they have a great beautiful reminder of the beautiful child they brought onto this earth," adds HPD Chief Art Acevedo.
After the ceremonial christening, Officer Erickson's parents and siblings were taken for a ride on the boat. Something they tell me is special and they will never forget.