Graham police officer dies unexpectedly

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GRAHAM, N.C. — A school resource officer with the Graham Police Department died unexpectedly this week. 

David Lewis, 52, was an Alamance County native and an SRO at Graham Middle School.  He also counseled students at both the middle school and Graham High School. 

According to Graham Police Chief Jeff Prichard, Lewis’s friends and family learned about one week ago that what Lewis had thought was a sinus infection was actually a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). There is no certain cause or cure for the disease, which causes an individual’s lungs to scar and stiffen and most often occurs between the ages of 50 and 70. 

Prichard said Lewis started feeling sick and first mentioned the infection in mid-April. A doctor prescribed him medicine, but he developed breathing problems.  He was then sent to Alamance Regional Medical Center for tests, and later UNC Chapel Hill Hospital for more tests. 

At the hospital in Chapel Hill, Lewis was sedated for a biopsy.  Doctors performing the biopsy were able to diagnose him with IPF, but he never woke up from the sedation, Prichard said. 

Lewis died Wednesday afternoon, Prichard said. 

The fallen officer first volunteered with the Graham Police Department for two years before joining the force as a full-time patrol officer in 1991.  In the late 90s, he began working as a school resource officer at Graham High School. 

Between 2003 and 2006, Lewis left the department to take a job with DynCorp, a company that provides contracted law enforcement overseas.  Before returning to the police department, Prichard said he worked in both Kosovo and Afghanistan. 

Upon his return, Lewis worked as a patrol officer until the school resource officer position opened at Graham Middle School. 

Some of his accomplishments include working as an instructor for the Gang Resistance Education and Training program and working with at-risk students in the Junior Police Academy each summer. 

Family visitation is to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at McClure’s Funeral Home in Graham. A public viewing will begin at noon.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lambs Chapel, in Haw River.

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