Officers rally behind families

HOUSTON Officer Joe Pyland has been upgraded to fair condition. The president of the Houston Police Officer's Union says three valued veterans were involved in an early morning accident.

Police say it was Officer Milton Sallie who first saw signs of trouble. He yelled at his colleagues to get out of the way.

"He immediately fell to the ground when he was struck," said Gary Blankinship with the Houston Police Officer's Union.

But two veteran officers were down. Joe Pyland was injured and Gary Gryder was killed. Blankinship says both men are long time board members of the Police Officer's Union.

Gryder was assigned to the Southeast Parole Violators Task Force.

"I could hardly conduct board meetings because he (Gryder) should have been a comedian instead of a police officer. He never had anything but a smile on his face and he never met a stranger," said Blankinship. "The guy had a million dollar personality."

Gryder's wife is a retired Houston Police Department officer. They also have a teenage son.

Injured officer Joe Pyland was making phone calls from the ambulance to his wife.

"Again, she kind of thought he was in shock because it was a lot of the policeman coming out of him. There is an emergency here, but I have to be in control," said Blankinship.

Blankinship says Pyland has been a big part of HPD's Blue Santa Program and told medics at the scene to tend to his more gravely injured colleague first.

The President of the Police Officer's Union acknowledges the dangers of the job but he adds losing a colleague, a friend of 20 years, is nothing you can train for.

"Not only did we lose a great police officer. We lost a great father and a great husband and a great family man," said Blankinship.

The police chief and mayor have been in contact with the families. A woman who knows what the family is dealing with, Joslyn Johnson, wife of fallen HPD Officer /*Rodney Johnson*/ who was killed in 2006, has been in contact with Gryder's wife.

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