By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 12, 2005
D.C. police officer James C. McBride was so excited about using a bicycle on patrol that he recently purchased a $500 mountain bike to practice the finer skills of balancing and racing down stairs after suspects.
With McBride's sudden death this week, his parents plan to donate the bike to the department so an eager officer can practice the same skills.
"He would have wanted it that way," said Kenneth J. McBride, the officer's father, who lives in Massachusetts.
The 25-year-old officer died Wednesday, a day after collapsing during bicycle training at the police academy in Southwest Washington. Doctors and police officials believe that McBride, a highly acclaimed officer who joined the force two years ago, died of hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance caused by drinking excessive amounts. Police are awaiting results of an autopsy.
McBride was taking a week-long course to prepare for bicycle patrols and may have had as much as three gallons of water during and after a 12-mile training ride. He later vomited, collapsed and suffered apparent seizures.
Police consider McBride to have died in the line of duty. He will receive full police honors during his funeral, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at All Souls Church, 2835 16th St. NW. McBride was engaged and lived in Northwest Washington.
McBride worked in the 1st District and concentrated his patrols in Sursum Corda, one of the city's most crime-ridden public housing complexes. He was recently named the district's rookie of the year for 2004.
"A lot of our officers are devastated," 1st District Cmdr. Thomas McGuire said. "He was a good officer. He was liked by his peers."
Ken McBride said his son wanted to use the bike to make more arrests and thwart drug dealers. "He wanted to cover more ground and make more cases," he said. "He was a man of action."
James McBride, known by family members as Craig, grew up in a strict home near Boston. He and his younger brother were not allowed to watch television during the week, and he became a voracious reader of history and politics, his father said.
"He couldn't walk through the house without a book," his father said. "He was always bumping into things."
McBride graduated from American University in 2002 with a degree in political science. During college, he had worked part time at the District's Emergency Management Agency. He eventually became a full-time staff employee.
He had admired the D.C. police officers he met through his job and began thinking about joining the force. Several close friends and family members had joined police departments, his father said.
His father, chief of staff for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, encouraged him to apply.
"He said, 'Dad, I don't want to be at an office the rest of my life,' " Ken McBride said. "He felt committed. He liked helping people."
Ken McBride said that if his son's death is confirmed as a case of hyponatremia, he plans to seek out the family of a Boston Marathon runner who died of the condition in 2002. "Maybe between the two of us we can do something" about the problem, he said.