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Officer’s death a shock

Wife heard on TV that a patrolman had been injured

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Sandi Dunman was watching Monday's 5 p.m. TV news, something she rarely does, when she noticed a bicycle patrol officer had been hit by a car.

"I didn't think anything of it at the time," she said.

Because her husband, Michael J. Dunman, was one of 27 bike cops in the Salt Lake City Police Department, it seemed unlikely her husband was the injured officer.

"I went to call him on his cell phone and he didn't answer," Sandi Dunman said. "A minute later I had people calling me and knocking on my door."

A girlfriend came over, and before long Sandi Dunman left her three girls, ages 5, 3 and 1, with friends and headed for LDS Hospital. She arrived about 6 p.m. and noticed several police officers standing around.

"When I saw everybody there, I knew that it was more serious than what I had first believed," Dunman said.

Michael Dunman, 30, was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. at LDS Hospital after he was hit by a car while riding his bike down a State Street sidewalk near 1450 South.

"He was really friendly," Sandi Dunman, 26, said of her late husband Tuesday morning from their Tooele home. "He tried to be kind to everyone."

Just Monday morning, Michael Dunman had finished third place in a golf tournament at Jeremy Ranch, his wife said.

"He loved to play golf," she said.

An athletic 6feet, 185 pounds, Dunman grew up in Fernandina Beach, Fla., and played baseball for a community college in that state. Dunman enjoyed lifting weights and riding his bike. He was also worked with LDS teenagers as the second counselor in the Young Men's presidency in Tooele's White Pine Ward, his wife said.

Dunman also loved spending time with his wife and three daughters.

"He was wonderful. He was the best father to my children," said Sandi Dunman, unable to control the tears any longer. "He loved to play with them and to practice soccer with them. They liked him to put them to bed."

The Dunmans met on a blind date set up by Sandi Dunman's brother-in-law in 1993.

"On the first date he took me to an authentic Mexican restaurant, and I hated the food," Sandi Dunman said. "I didn't think that he would ask me out again, but the next day he actually called my brother-in-law to see what I thought about him."

Their second date was to a Reba McEntire concert.

"He ended up winning tickets to see Reba, and that was our second date. I fell for him."

The couple was engaged after dating 2 1/2 months. They married Oct. 8, 1993, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.

Michael Dunman joined the police force in 1994 and worked as a patrolman before going to the narcotics unit as an undercover officer. He spent the last year as a bicycle patrol officer.

"He loved it," Sandi Dunman said. "He was enthusiastic. . . . He loved riding his bike. He didn't even have a bike before that."

Michael Dunman was one of seven officers on the Liberty Patrol Unit, the smallest of the three bicycle patrol units in the police department.

By 7:30 p.m. Monday the flag at the downtown police headquarters was lowered to half staff, and officers donned small "black drapes," which will be worn on their uniform shoulders until the officer is laid to rest, Capt. Scott Atkinson said.

"Most of the officers are pretty shook up and understandably so," Atkinson said.

Dunman is the 19th Salt Lake City officer to die while on duty and the first since 1982 when a bullet narrowly missed the protective vest worn by Sgt. Ronald Heaps and pierced the officer's heart as he served a warrant.

"It doesn't matter if you're going into a gunfight or not," Atkinson said. "When something like this occurs, it reminds you just how dangerous this job can be."

Sandi Dunman said she never worried about the possible dangers her husband faced. Until Monday, she said her husband had never been in a bike accident.

"People asked me all the time if I worried about him and I said no," she said. "I just had to put my trust in God."

With neighbors and loved ones providing meals and emotional support, Sandi Dunman is now trying to explain to her three daughters that their father has died. The family was supposed to go on a trip to Disney World in September and visit Michael Dunman's father, who still lives in Florida. "My younger two are too young to understand," Sandi Dunman said. "My older one is having a very hard time."

A trust fund has been established for the Dunman family. Contributions may be sent to the Utah Law Enforcement Credit Union, c/o Officer Michael Dunman Charitable Trust, 450 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, or call 533-8400.

E-MAIL: djensen@desnews.com