Remembering the Covington police officer who died 25 years ago

Michael Partin’s wife says the Covington community got her through the worst times.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 9:52 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Wednesday marks 25 years since a Covington police officer died in the line of duty.

Officer Michael Partin was helping another officer with a suspected drunk driver on Jan. 4, 1998, when he accidentally fell into the Ohio River from the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

He was a newlywed and left behind an 11-year-old daughter.

A memorial for Michael sits at the Covington Police Department headquarters, and a section of street outside is named in his honor.

“I fell completely apart, and it took a lot of years and therapy,” Lisa Partin, Michael’s wife, told FOX19 Wednesday night.

Lisa says it’s surreal remembering Michael, to whom she was married for nine months when the incident happened. Michael was 25

“He’ll just forever be a young police officer,” she said.

Michael had been an officer with Covington PD for just 15 months. He was called in to help a Kenton County police officer with a drunk driver who ran into the bridge. He stopped his car on the bridge and leapt over the concrete divider but did not realize there was a 3-ft. gap.

“Huge surprise at five in the morning when you get a knock on the door,” Lisa said. “So, I’m like, ‘Let’s go!’ I’m trying to put clothes on. ‘Let’s go find him!’”

She recalls having trouble processing the severity of the situation. Dive teams and more than 100 volunteers searched the river for Michael. Lisa says she watched everything they did. But months later, Michael remained missing.

She had to celebrate their first wedding anniversary alone.

“In your head, you’re thinking, ‘They’re dead,’” Lisa said. “But in your heart, until you see a body, they’re not dead.”

Michael’s body was recovered in May 1998.

“I collapsed,” she said.

Although devastated at Michael’s death, Lisa says she was able to find some peace in the fact of his recovery.

“A huge relief, because the guessing was over, and we could put him to rest now,” she said.

The man Michael was trying to catch was released from prison in 2002 after serving two years of a six-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter.

Lisa says the support of friends, family and her community got her through the tragedy.

“It means everything. Covington has been so good to my family,” she said.

She advises the spouses of other first responders to live with their loved ones in the moment.

“Don’t take them for granted, because they can go to work and not come home, and tomorrow is never promised. The last thing you say to somebody could be the last thing you ever say to somebody.”

Lisa says Michael would have been proud of their daughter, who recently became a Covington firefighter.

She also says she was able to find love again, having recently gotten engaged.

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