The Minneapolis park police officer suffered multiple injuries after being hit by a squad car.
Mark Bedard, a hard-working Minneapolis park police officer with a big teddy-bear smile, had so much to overcome after being hit by another officer's squad car during a chase Nov. 1.
Broken bones, a collapsed lung and torn aorta. His heart stopped twice during surgery, which led to a severe stroke. On Tuesday, Bedard's wife, Andi, wrote in their CaringBridge Web page that it "was an up day, and we are rejoicing for that tiny little smile that lets us know that the Mark we know and love is still in there amongst the tubes, casts, wounds and monitors."
But, she continued, the reality of things set in for the first time.
"I am not losing hope, but possibly being more realistic with the many long miles we have ahead of us," she wrote. Park police Chief Brad Johnson would later say the road to recovery wasn't going to bring back "the Mark we had known."
Following several more agonizing days, the family decided the 34-year-old's struggle would end peacefully. After goodbye kisses from his wife, 2-year-old son Nic and other relatives, Bedard died Friday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
"As you continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers, please remember the other officers who were involved in this tragedy," said Andi Bedard, surrounded by officers and family two hours after her husband's death.
In the department's more than 100 years, Bedard was the first to die in the line of duty from a traumatic incident.
"This has been a tough week," said a choked-up Johnson. "We lost a dear colleague and friend."
A career of accomplishments
Bedard, who joined the park police in 1997, had a personnel file full of recognition for his work. Last year, he received the department's Medal of Commendation for securing a chaotic scene during a shootout in north Minneapolis that sent a bullet through his squad windshield. The incident happened just a few blocks from where he was hit while running into an alley after a shooting suspect last week.
During his career, Bedard helped solve a homicide in Mendota Heights and reduce gang activity in Minneapolis parks. He talked a suicidal man off the Franklin Avenue bridge. He was a frequent speaker at schools.
Away from work, Bedard loved to hunt and fish. He led the charge of the park officers for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge fundraiser in Lake Calhoun this winter. They were called Team Matt, named after Johnson's son, a participant in Special Olympics.
"At one point during the week I had to tell officers to leave Mark's side at the hospital and give the family some time with him," Johnson said.
On Thursday, park police Sgt. Brian Rodgers stopped by Bedard's room and gave him the Distinguished Service Award Rodgers had received as Minnesota Police Officer of the year in 1999. "This is my most cherished possession from my career. It is yours now, Mark," he said.
The incident that led to Bedard's death started when officers responded to a 911 call from a person who had been shot at from a car carrying three men near 25th and Humboldt Avenues N. Officers in plainclothes spotted the car and pursued it. A marked squad also followed.
Hit between two garages
The officers had just turned on their lights and siren when the car crashed into a tree about four blocks away. The driver fled and ran between a few houses before he crossed into the alley. He ran across just before Bedard emerged from between two garages and was hit.
"He was chasing a bad guy, and that led to a tragic accident," Johnson said. "In my 32-year career, I think of the many times I did what Mark did, and, by the grace of God, didn't get hit."