Officer's family talks to Eyewitness News

June 30, 2008 6:46:49 PM PDT
For the first time we're hearing from the Houston police officer who was alongside Officer Gary Gryder when he was struck and killed by an out-of-control driver. That driver is now charged in Officer Gryder's death.

As the wife of a Houston police officer Mary Pyland knows the risks.

"You feel secure they're going to go out there and do what they are paid to do," Mary Pyland said. "You expect them to come home."

Yet nothing could have prepared her for the phone call she received from her husband early Sunday morning. It was less than an hour after he left for work.

"He kept stressing I'm okay I'm okay," Mary Pyland said. "He was even saying you don't have to come up here. Make sure the kids get to their sporting events."

Her husband, veteran Houston police officers Joe Pyland talked to us by phone from his hospital bed. He, along with officers Gary Gryder and Milton SallIe were hit by a speeding driver while working traffic duty in a construction zone on the Katy Freeway,

"This happened in like half a second," Officer Pyland told us. "There was no reaction time. Everyone did the best that they could."

Officer Sallie jumped out of the way before the car struck him. Pyland suffered a broken leg. Officer Gryder, who was thrown more than 75 feet upon impact, did not make it.

"We all lost a great friend," Pyland said. "What a great guy."

Police arrested the driver Hung Troung, 24, who they say was laughing hysterically in the moments after the crash. Troung has since been charged with vehicular manslaughter and made his first court appearance wearing scrubs early this morning.

"People don't realize how much these officers put themselves in danger," Pyland said. "It's not a laughing matter."

While the Pylands have been overwhelmed by the show of support, their thoughts are with the Gryder family their hearts heavy with grief.

"When something like this happens, you're like it could have been me," Mary Pyland said. "What if it would have been my husband? It could have been any of us."

The 100 Club is accepting donations for Officer Gryder's family. Money is already being given to the family. The 100 Club's Survivor's Fund provides benefits to the family members of officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. If you'd like to donate,

We have a link to the 100 Club site here.

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