HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – This Thursday, Hendersonville will hold a special ceremony honoring law enforcement officers who lost their lives while on duty.
The memorial service for the five officers is open to the public. Officer Spencer Bristol was one of those five tragically killed.
Spencer and his wife, Lauren, first met in Pensacola, Florida.
“We kind of grew up together in a way. I met him my first time that I was really, truly away from home in the navy,” said Lauren Bristol, Spencer’s widow.
Over time, while serving in the Navy, the two fell in love.
“I know people always say that somebody lights up a room, but he really, really did,” said Lauren.
The young couple moved to Hendersonville, grew their family, and Spencer joined the Hendersonville Police Department so he could serve the community where he grew up, but on Dec. 30, 2019, while many were celebrating the holidays, Lauren’s life came to a standstill.
“His sergeant who was on that night called and told me that there had been an accident, and he wasn’t sure how Spencer was, but our neighbor was coming to pick us up,” she said.
Spencer paid the ultimate sacrifice. While chasing a suspect who started running, he was struck by a car near Vietnam Veterans and I-65.
“We found out when we got to the hospital that he had not made it,” said Lauren. “I just didn’t want to face the reality of it.”
She also had to tell their young daughter Eloise that Dad was not coming home.
“They’ll be father-daughter dances or big events at school, and this year has been super hard for her in particular, with not having her dad around for a lot of these things.”
Spencer’s death sparked a new law, increasing the penalty for suspects who run from police and cause serious injury to the officer. This month, the stretch of I-65 where Spencer’s life ended was named in his honor, and outside Hendersonville Police headquarters, alongside the four previously fallen Hendersonville officers, his name is etched in stone.
“He was a hard worker. He believed in what he was doing,” said Cmdr. Larry Daniel, who trained Spencer.
“Occasionally, we get an officer in here like him that’s ready-made,” Daniel added. “I enjoyed seeing him. Every time he came across the parking lot, he would call out and make sure he would say hello to me. He was a ball of energy.”
As time moves on, Lauren wants to make sure Spencer’s energy continues to burn bright.
“Spencer’s legacy is always going to be a part of my life. I’m always going to talk about him,” said Lauren.
The Hendersonville Police Department fallen officer memorial service is Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at Hendersonville Church of Christ. The public is welcome to attend.