CRESTVIEW — A young man seeking to learn more about the father he never knew found a whole family of law enforcement officers he didn’t know he had.
On Aug. 24, his journey led him to the Crestview Police Department.
Christian McIntire was not yet born when his dad, Officer Jeffery McIntire, finished his July 17, 1997, shift, hopped into his 1987 family Ford and headed toward his home in DeFuniak Springs.
He never made it.
As McIntire drove east on U.S. Highway 90, a 1995 Ford truck owned by the Florida Department of Transportation struck his car head on.
The charismatic young officer died in the wreck, leaving behind his pregnant wife, Billie Jo, his daughter Sarah and his unborn son, Christian.
As one of the police department’s new bicycle patrolmen, Officer McIntire patrolled Crestview Housing Authority neighborhoods.
“He made a lot of friends there and made a difference in those people’s lives,” then-Police Chief Maxie Barrow said in an interview in the Okaloosa County Citizen Review. “He was a valuable member of our department.”
Crestview Police’s IT guru and computer crimes specialist, Investigator Len Steinmeier, was on duty Aug. 24 when Christian walked into the Whitehurst Municipal Building. Steinmeier had served with Officer McIntire for several months before the tragedy.
“The first thing I noticed was Christian’s incredible resemblance to his dad,” he said. “It was almost eerie how much they look alike.”
Returning a few days later with his mom, Christian and Billie Jo met Deputy Chief Jamie Grant and several other officers and staff members who knew Jeff McIntire, plus some who just wanted to meet the son and wife of a former officer.
“It was like looking at twins,” CPD executive assistant Beverly Barnes said of meeting Christian. Telling Christian, “I have something for you,” she pressed into his hand his father’s silver name badge that she had kept for more than two decades. “This was your dad’s.”
“I almost cried,” Christian said later. “It was an array of emotions I just can’t begin to describe.”