END OF WATCH: December 26. 1951
Gates Mills Police Department
On December 26, 1951, just after midnight, Lieutenant Earl D. Thomas was patrolling the Village of Gates Mills when his police vehicle became disabled in heavy snow. While attempting to free the vehicle, Thomas slipped and struck his chest on the rear of the police car. A village truck was dispatched to the scene, and also became stuck while attempting to extricate the police car. It was decided to leave both vehicles there until morning. After calling for assistance from the Mayfield Heights Police Department, Thomas became ill while being conveyed to the police station. He declined an offer to be taken to the hospital and was dropped off at the Gates Mills Police Station.
At 7:15am the village matron called Chief Leslie Smith reporting Thomas was ill. At approximately 7:30am, Chief Smith arrived at the Gates Mills Town Hall where he discovered Thomas unresponsive and not breathing.
Thomas’s cause of death was subsequently ruled by the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office as coronary thrombosis, due to a blow to the chest.
Thomas was a 15-year police veteran at the time of his death, he served with the Village of Gates Mills Police Department for 12 of those years, working his way up to the position of lieutenant. He was a WWI veteran.
A resident of Gates Mills as well, he was survived by his wife Dorothy Thomas and their two children. Current surviving family members include daughter Mary Thomas of St. Clair Shores Michigan, granddaughter Linda Jacoby of Grosepoint Park Michigan, and grandson David Jacoby of Louisa Virginia.
Earl D. Thomas’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Panel 51, E-24