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Honoring the only North Dakota trooper killed in the line of duty 70 years later

58-year-old Trooper Beryl McLane was killed when a drunk driver slammed head-on into his patrol car.

McLane
A new tombstone has replaced the old grave marker for Trooper Beryl McLane.
Matt Henson/WDAY
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JAMESTOWN — On a hot afternoon Wednesday, Aug. 3, nearly two dozen people gathered at the Highland Home Cemetery. That included Ken Attleson, the only remaining relative of North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Beryl McLane.

"It means quite a lot," said Attleson.

A new tombstone has been put into place for Trooper McLane, the only North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper killed in the line of duty in the department's 87-year history.

"There really wasn't any highway patrol representation, and it almost felt as it was missing that piece," said Colonel Brandon Solberg.

Trooper McLane was killed July 30, 1954 while on patrol. A drunk driver crossed the center-line on Highway 13 near LaMoure, and slammed head-on into his patrol car. The 58-year-old left behind a wife, son and a daughter. His grandson was just 3 years old.

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The 27-year-old driver who killed McLane served 3 years for manslaughter.

"It bothered the family quite a bit, it shouldn't have happened," said Attleson.

Each year, members of the highway patrol visit trooper McLane's gravesite on the anniversary of his death. A couple years ago, the troopers thought he deserved more. The grave marker had become worn and the grass was covering it.

"(It was) insufficient for what he gave to us," said North Dakota Trooper's Association president Steven Mayer.

They immediately began talking about honoring their only fallen hero. The cost was not cheap. It was going to cost $3,000. However, an anonymous donor wanted to honor Trooper McLane's sacrifice.

"A gentleman overheard a conversation that we were having, pulled me aside, and said he would like to pay for half the tombstone," explained Mayer.

Trooper McLane's grandson visits the gravesite two to three times a year. He said he had never really considered upgrading his grandfather's because it matches all the other ones in the cemetery.

"We were quite surprised on that, which we really appreciate, and like to find out who it is so, we can thank whoever it was," said Attleson.

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"A hundred years from now, when everybody is gone, hopefully they will appreciate who he was and what he sacrificed," said Mayer.

Prior to becoming a trooper, McLane also served with the Jamestown Police Department and Aberdeen Police Department.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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