Fallen Heroes: Officer Keith Alan Dees

Nelson Zoch

March 7, 2002

Keith Alan Dees was born in Saudi Arabia in a United States Air Force Hospital on October 19, 1956.  His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ruby Harlon Dees, were in that country while his father was serving in the military at the time.  He received his early education at Anderson  Elementary School in Houston, Fondren and Johnston Junior High Schools, and graduated from Westbury High School in 1975.

Keith attended the University of Houston for a time and began his employment with the City of Houston in 1978 as a fireman with the Houston Fire Department in Class 78-A. After four years of fighting fires, Keith applied for the Houston Police Department.  He began his HPD career with Academy Class #107 on August 9, 1982, graduating on December 10, 1982. His first assignment was to the South Radio Patrol Bureau out of the Southwest Patrol Station, night shift, proudly wearing Badge #3807.

Officer Dees, in the mid 1980’s, began working on the Westside Traffic Enforcement Unit and in 1987, he was selected to work in the Solo Motorcycle Unit of the Accident Division.  He worked in that capacity until the time of his death.

On the night of Thursday, March 7, 2002, Officer Keith Dees had nearly completed his tour of duty with the evening shift of the Solo Motorcycle Division.  Just shortly prior to 9pm, he had received an assignment from his supervisor, Sergeant D.J. Culak, to initiate a final inspection of their assigned freeways prior to heading home for the night.

While on his last freeway patrol of the evening, he entered the North Freeway at the Walker Street entrance.  As he entered the northbound lanes, he was changing lines to his left in an attempt to pass a slower moving vehicle.  When he did so, he was confronted with a disabled Cadillac in that lane that had lost a wheel.  In an obvious attempt to avoid a collision with the disabled vehicle, he veered to his right and in doing so, went down with the motorcycle.

Officer Dees skidded along the freeway pavement and received massive body trauma that caused a number of internal injuries.  A passing physician stopped to render aid and assistance was summoned.  He was loaded in an HFD ambulance and taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:30pm.  He was forty-five years old, a nineteen-year HPD veteran.

Officer Keith Dees was survived by his wife, Deborah Dees, his son Derek Dees, age twelve, his daughter Grace Dees, twenty-one months old, and by a stepson, Trenton, age eight.  Also mourning his sudden death were his mother, Mrs. Bettye Virginia Dees, sisters Marianne Cole and Leslie Hakkola, and his brother, Kevin Dees.  His siblings spouses and their children also mourned his death, as did his mother and father-in-law, Woody Enloe and Virginia Enloe, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Ruby Harlon Dees, as well as his grandfather, Ruben C. Dees.

George H. Lewis and Sons, 1010 Bering Drive, was in charge of arrangements.  Visitation was held from 6pm-8pm on Monday, March 11, 2002.  Funeral services were held on Tuesday, March 12, 2002, at 11am at the Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, with the Reverend Steve Seelig officiating.  Burial followed at Forest Park Westheimer Cemetery.

Officer J.E. Tippy of the Accident Division was assigned to conduct this On-Duty Officer Fatality investigation.  Officer Tippy, the primary investigator on the case, was supervised at the scene and in his follow-up report by Lieutenants A.F. Bukowski and S.L. Broze.  He was assisted by Sergeant E.B. Robinson and Officers R. Ontiveros, R. Palomo, I.M. Labdi, R.A. Narvaez, M.W. Potell and  R. Saenz.  A thorough investigation was conducted and after Officer Tippy followed through and compiled all of the details, this case  was presented to an Assistant District Attorney for review for possible charges.  The investigation revealed no negligence or criminal intent on the part of the operator of the stalled Cadillac.  After consultation with Officer Dees’ family, a decision was reached to not pursue the matter any further.

In 2007, son Derek Dees is seventeen years old and lives in Houston with his Mother, Sherri.  He will be graduating from high school this year.  Grace Dees, now nearly seven years old, lives in Houston with her Mother, Deborah Dees, as does Trenton.  Mrs. Bettye Virginia Dees also resides in Houston at the age of eighty-three.  Kevin Dees lives in Houston and is the dad of two daughters, Karen Dees and Cynthia Dees.  Sister Marianne Cole lives in Houston and is the mom of Lisa and Michelle.  Sister Leslie Hakkola lives in Minnesota and is the mom of three daughters, Susan, Catherine, and Jennifer.  As a result of this tragic accident, a daughter, two sons, and seven nieces are growing up without their father or uncle.