Friends finish what Trooper Walker started, surprise son with revamped ‘dream truck’
Before he died, Chad Walker bought pickup for son and planned to fix it up
GROESBECK, Texas (KWTX) - The teenaged son of Chad Walker, a local state trooper shot and killed in a rural Central Texas highway, was surprised over the weekend with the truck he and his father dreamed of fixing up together.
Ethan Walker, 15, thought he was at a gathering on the family’s land in Limestone County on Saturday to relax and enjoy a cookout.
Ethan was stunned when a childhood friend of Trooper Walker drove up in a truck his father had bought him just months before his tragic death.
To Ethan’s surprise, the truck had undergone a complete overhaul and the new and improved version was the vision the father and son envisioned.
“I wish that I could describe the feeling that I felt when I saw that truck drive up, but truth be known, there aren’t words to describe what I felt,” said Tobie Walker, the trooper’s widow, as she fought back tears.
The once marron 2003 Ford F-250 now sports a “desert tan” exterior done with Rhino lining. Ethan had picked out the color and style with his father.
It wasn’t just the color that had changed. Just about everything was upgraded. The truck had new front and rear bumpers, tires, wheels, mirrors, windshield and a new sound system.
Behind the wheel of the special delivery was Brad Freeman, one of Trooper Walker’s best friends since childhood.
Freeman said his friend had told him all about his plans for fixing up the truck with Ethan. On the day Walker died, Freeman knew he had a job to finish.
“He wanted to make it really special to him,” Freeman said. “They were working on it together and, since he wouldn’t be able to finish it, we wanted to finish it for him.”
Walker’s widow said seeing the truck for the first time was overwhelming. She remembered the day Walker first found the pickup for their son, almost by accident, while on the job.
“Chad happened to be patrolling out past our house and he saw this guy parking the truck on the side of the highway and he went to tell him it’s illegal to park the truck like that and he found out that he was selling it for little-to-nothing,” she recalls.
“He contacted me and said, ‘oh my gosh, I found Ethan’s truck!’ He test drove it in his uniform and everything,” said Tobie Walker.
Walker bought the truck that night and couldn’t wait to make it perfect for Ethan.
When Chad died, Ethan worried that dream might never come to pass, but Chad’s buddies had a different plan.
Two weeks after his death, they picked up the truck from Ethan’s home and Tobie Walker told her son that it was just going in for a paint job.
“You and daddy already had it picked out and they’re just taking it to get it painted,” she recalls telling their son. “So, for six months, we’ve been telling him, that because of COVID, they couldn’t find the right products and he just kept asking ‘where is my truck?’”
Freeman said that while he did help spearhead the effort, he was far from alone in doing the heavy lifting. Multiple businesses and individuals came together to make it happen, with just about everything being donated.
The family and Freeman worry they’re forgetting many who deserve thanks, but do want to mention childhood friends Clayton Elmore and Jarrod Hardin, along with Andy Beldin, who painted the truck.
Cousin Nick Walker pitched in. So did friend Al Boytis, Gunner Guest and Sykora Family Ford in West, Texas. Jack’s Stereo in Waco donated the sound system and Iron Cross Automotive out of Oklahoma City donated the bumpers, which were custom made.
The family said a local police officer who heard about the revamping of the truck showed up to donate money.
Tobie Walker said the labor of love lifts a heavy burden off her as a mother raising a teenaged boy.
“Chad and Ethan had huge plans for this truck and it is now our reality,” she said. Ethan couldn’t me more in love with his new pickup.
The teenager enjoyed driving the truck over the weekend and, come January 13 of next year, he’ll have a lot more time behind the wheel when he turns 16.
“I just want to thank everyone. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep changing lives and I pray that you’re all very, very blessed,” Tobie said.
“Chad, this one’s for you,” Freeman said as he reflected on the effort. “Ethan, I hope you enjoy the truck. It’s what your daddy wanted you to have. "
“I know that Chad is smiling big,” the trooper’s widow said. “And he’s very proud that he’s living on through all of us.”
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