HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was 40 days ago that Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol with the Hendersonville Police Department was killed in the line of duty.
Officer Bristol was struck and killed while chasing a suspect, who ran across I-65. He left behind a wife and a little girl who will turn 4 on Sunday.
Friday, in her first sit down interview, the officer’s widow, Lauren Bristol, told News 2 the last few weeks have been exceedingly painful.
“This has been absolutely the hardest time of both of our lives,” Bristol says in a somber tone.
On the night of Dec. 30, her husband, Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol, died in the line of duty. That’s the night Lauren Bristol’s whole world changed.
“I was so scared. I didn’t know how I could do my life without Spencer. I didn’t know how I could take care of Eloise. I didn’t know what our life would be like. And within 48 hours I realized we were not alone, that we had not just the police department and our extended family but a community behind us.”
While still in shock, with so much grief, with so many uncertainties filling her thoughts, Lauren had to tell her baby girl – Eloise – that daddy wouldn’t be coming home.
“I just keep telling her daddy’s in heaven and he loves her. He always loves her. I never want Eloise to forget the person Spencer was. I always want Spencer to be a part of our home, he’ll never leave. The absolute hardest part of that night was telling Eloise that Spencer was not coming home.”
Lauren and Spencer were together for 10 years. Though he’s gone now, when she closes her eyes and looks in her heart, she’ll always see the man she loved who lit up a room and cared about others.
“Spencer was truly a bright light in any room he walked into. He was always kidding, smiling, always joking. He has taught a lot of that to Eloise, and that has come through in her personality.”
Lauren says she sees her husband in her baby’s eyes.
“100%. I use to be angry that she looked nothing like me. She has my sister’s coloring and Spencer’s face. And 100% of Spencer’s personality. And now I am 100% thankful that he has in her, a legacy, I know that she will do great things. And that’s just who I will always remember. 10 years wasn’t enough to have with him.”
While there is still pain in her heart, Lauren Bristol also wants to thank the community for lifting her and supporting her and making it possible to move forward.
“The community support and the support from the police dept has been truly incredible and that’s the biggest thing that I want to do is say thank you. I know that I have not been able to personally say thank you to every person who has reached out to us and prayed for us and given to us as we weather this, but I am incredibly thankful. I am thankful that Eloise has hundreds of stand-in fathers since her’s can’t be here with her.”
Moving forward, Lauren sees only positive energy associated with her husband’s legacy.
“I would love in the future to create a scholarship fund for kids from our community to go into criminal justice careers who would not otherwise be able to pursue those. We can never bring Spencer back, nothing will replace him, but moving forward we hope to do something better out of what came from this.”
Currently, the Spencer Bristol Act is working its way through the legislature. The bill would increase the penalty for evading arrest that results in an officer’s injury or death. The bill would make the crime a Class C felony if the officer is injured and a Class A felony if the officer dies.
“I really wanted to be something that makes people think before they run. the purpose is to be more of a deterrent than a punishment you could say. And that’s what we want. I don’t want this to ever happen to another law enforcement family.”
In May, Lauren, her family, and many officers from the Hendersonville Police Department are going to Washington D.C. for the National Fallen Officers Memorial where officer Bristol’s name will be added to the wall of fallen heroes.
Hendersonville Officers confirmed the City of Hendersonville will help subsidize that trip for families that plan to attend.