When this cop’s daughter visited his grave, she found a crowd of people encircling the tombstone. It was a special day for Sierra Bradway, and she wanted to commemorate it by visiting her father’s grave. But when she arrived at the cemetery, she saw something unexpected: a crowd of people surrounding her father’s final resting place.
The patriarch of the Bradway family was Rod, who served as a police officer in Indianapolis, Indiana. His wife, Jamie, worked as a paramedic. Together they shared two children, Sierra and her brother, Jonathan. But the Bradway family would be irreversibly changed in September of 2013.
That night, Rod and another officer responded to a 911 call within a building at around 2 am. So, the policemen made their way to the scene. When the officers got to the building, they heard a woman screaming from inside one of the apartments. A man had been holding her for hours at gunpoint. By the time police arrived, her 10-month-old daughter was inside as well.
Rod spoke through the door to the man who was keeping the woman hostage. Then the officer made a move, kicking in the apartment’s door. But when he entered the unit, the suspect turned the gun on him. Rod’s heroics were enough to save the woman and her young daughter, but the gunshot wound would prove to be fatal for the 41-year-old father of two. He died at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis shortly after the incident.
The Bradway family was left without their patriarch, but they found ways to illuminate the legacy he left behind. In fact, Jamie’s Facebook bio shared her unwavering dedication to his memory: “Surviving wife of fallen officer Rod Bradway,” she wrote, “living life and honoring my hero.”
As for Rod’s daughter Sierra, she came up with her own unique idea to honor her late father, but it didn’t happen until four years later when she headed off to prom. The teenager, of course, revealed her intentions to her date, Brock Spade, before the high schoolers made their way to the dance.
Sierra wanted them to make a particular stop along the way: it was at Crown Hill Cemetery where she could visit her father’s burial site and take some priceless photos there in her prom dress. Little did Sierra know the stop would turn into something even more special than the heartwarming moment she had planned.
That’s because her date’s mother was part of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department; in fact, she’s a captain, and she had a plan of her own. It seems that Captain Spade got in touch with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. She also sent a call to action to several other agencies. The captain wanted officers to come and show their support for Sierra as she headed to prom.
Of course, the teenager had no idea that any of this was happening behind the scenes. So, when her prom day rolled around, she arrived for pictures at Crown Hill Cemetery expecting to see just her photographer and, of course, Brock. But as Sierra’s white SUV pulled up, she likely realized immediately that some things were out of the ordinary.
For starters, two police officers on horseback stood on either side of the path leading to the cemetery. After Brock politely opened the car door for Sierra, she could walk out and see the extent of the efforts made by Captain Spade and the area’s police officers. At the same time, men and women in uniform began to clap when they saw her.
The officers had all gathered around a memorial in Crown Hill Cemetery dedicated to heroes of public safety. There, Sierra joined them to pose for prom photos that were a little different than the ones she had initially planned but incredibly special nonetheless.
The IMPD’s Twitter account shared a slew of the prom pictures and said that they, along with the Marion County Sheriff, Clermont PD, and Butler University Police, wished Sierra Bradway, daughter of fallen officer Rod Bradway, a good prom. Even IMPD Chief Brian Roach chimed in; he wrote on his Twitter account, “Honored to be included in Sierra’s prom. As our beloved fallen brother officer Rod Bradway would say, ‘Have Sierra home before 9 pm, sir.’”
Most of all, though, the day was a swell of emotion for everyone involved. According to the IMPD’s Facebook post about the surprise, there were a lot of laughs, some tears, but most importantly, there was love. The IMPD ended its post with some touching reassurance for their colleague’s daughter: “We know your father is smiling from heaven. Know that your IMPD family will always be here for you.”
After the teenager’s unexpected prom send-off in 2017, Sierra continued the tradition the next year, in 2018. She took pictures next to her father’s grave in another gorgeous dress. This time, though, she had a peaceful moment with just her dad.”