MUNCIE, Ind. — Six days after a motorcycle crash in Delaware County seriously injured two retired members of local enforcement, a husband and wife, both died as a result of their injuries on the same night.
According to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, retired Muncie Police Department Sgt. Kirk Mace, and his wife Debbie, a recently retired investigator with the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, were riding their motorcycle on U.S. 35 just southeast of the city, when a pickup truck traveling on Delaware County Road 300 South crossed into their path.
The crash happened just after 4 p.m. Sunday, June 13, according to the sheriff’s office. Both Kirk and Deb were transported via ambulance to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, and then flown separately to a hospital in Indianapolis, where they remained until their passing on June 19.
“If there’s any piece, any positive piece to take away from it, is that they’re no longer suffering and they are together,” said Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney, Eric Hoffman.
Hoffman said he’s known both Kirk and Debbie for quite some time.
“I first met Kirk before Debbie. He was a policeman with Muncie Police Department. He worked a lot of cases that the prosecutor’s office sees and deals with,” said Hoffman, “He was a great police officer. He was the policeman of the policeman if you will.”
About seven years ago, Hoffman said he hired Debbie as an investigator in his office. She just retired on May 1, he said.
“She was not only a great employee, great investigator, but she was a great person,” he said. “This morning for whatever reason I felt like Debbie was gonna be walking through that doorway as she often did, but we know that’s not gonna happen.”
Hoffman said riding their motorcycle was something the Maces loved doing. “It was a nice, beautiful day and they were out on their motorcycle, enjoying life and living life to the fullest like they always did, and told other people to do.”
He said what happened will leave a huge hole in the heart of many in the Muncie community and beyond.
“It was definitely like a kick in the gut for everybody,” said Muncie police Sgt. Brandon Qualls, who also serves as the President of the Gregg Winters Memorial Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 87.
Qualls said his father was also a sergeant on the department, and he’s known Kirk since he was a little kid.
“I always looked up to him,” said Qualls. “He was a father figure to me, as he was for dozens of other police officers.”
“It still seems like a nightmare. Like it’s not real, it’s just really hard to process still,” Qualls said.
Muncie Police said Kirk retired after serving 35 years on the Muncie Police Department. He retired in 2020 at the rank of sergeant and was also a SWAT team leader.
The department issued a statement to CBS4 on Tuesday.
“We are profoundly saddened by the loss of these two members of our law enforcement community. The Maces’ were leaders, role models, consummate professionals, and faithful public servants. They were our family and will be missed.”Chief Nathan Sloan, Muncie Police Department
“You always wanted to make him proud. He looked really tough and everything on the outside, but when you knew Kirk, he was actually one of the nicest people you’d ever meet,” said Qualls.
He shared that Kirk seemed to know everyone in the community, and everyone in the community seemed to know him.
“Even when he had to make an arrest of somebody, they knew him, trusted him and knew he was doing his job and it was nothing personal,” said Qualls.
“I learned a lot from Kirk. I’m not a policeman, I’m a prosecutor, but he taught me an awful lot about policing, what it’s like to be on the streets, how to be a good policeman, how to do your job correctly, and if you look at Kirk’s career, I think you will see that over the course of 35 years, he was an excellent policeman,” said Hoffman.
“I think a lot of people who Kirk even arrested will tell you that he treated them fairly and with respect,” Hoffman continued.
Qualls said he has been participating in the department’s Shop with a Cop event every year for about 15 years. He said there hasn’t been a year that’s passed where Kirk wasn’t at the event, dressed in a silly Christmas hat to bring even more joy to the kids.
“He was so happy helping all of those kids, making them laugh, and having such a great time,” said Qualls. He doesn’t think this event will ever be quite the same without him.
“It’s really hard because I think he, even though he just retired, everybody still looked up to him as a role model and that father figure. You were always happy to see him. He’d always have a big smile on his face when he’d see ya, so it’s like losing a family member for sure.”
Both Qualls and Hoffman said the same thing: if you knew the Maces, you were considered family to them. They also said they loved their family more than anything.
“If you were friends with him, you were family, and that’s how he treated you. He treated his family just the same, just amazing, and that’s why they’re having such a hard time,” said Qualls. “If he was your friend, you were family for sure.”
Hoffman shared, “Kirk and Debbie both, they never really met a stranger. If you’ve spent time with either one of them, you felt like you’ve known them your whole life.”
He continued, “they never met a stranger, so if you met them, they were gonna be your friends and help you out and talk to you. I’m sure there are people all over this community today that are still mourning them.”
Over the last several days, Hoffman and Qualls said the support from the community for both the families of Kirk and Debbie, but also the departments they worked for, has been immeasurable.
“They left a huge footprint both in their professional lives and in their personal lives,” said Hoffman, “You could tell by again, not only the candlelight vigil, but the people that watched them being escorted back to Muncie. You can tell how many people they’ve affected and it’s a lot. It’s countless.”
Qualls said more than 500 people attended a candlelight vigil to honor the Maces, one that was planned with less than 12 hours’ notice.
On Sunday, Qualls, other officers, and the Fraternal Order of Police helped escort Kirk and Deb back to Muncie from Indianapolis.
“The amount of trust they gave — the Mace family — gave us to do that was not something we took lightly, and we wanted to make sure we honored them properly,” he shared.
“There was a lot of tears on the way back. There was a lot of tears when we went down and got them ready to come back,” said Qualls.
He shared, it was hard to hold back the emotions as he watched officers from all over honor Kirk, someone many of them likely never even met, but honored as if they’ve known forever.
“The amount of people that were standing over their vehicles with their hands over their chest and hats off. There was a lot of tears on the way back,” said Qualls.
“At times it was very difficult to keep the composure and continue to drive because it was very touching and very somber.”
The stories of the impacts the Maces had on the community are continuing to flood in over social media. A local restaurant, Trust Your Butcher Steakhouse in Muncie, shared with CBS4 that Kirk and Deb were regulars and they have saved their seats in their honor.
“On Thursdays they’d get dinner along with Michelob Ultra beer. They brought many fellow Muncie locals and spent their evenings chatting, laughing, and lighting up the bar,” said a spokesperson.
“Deb and Kirk recently both retired and celebrated with us. We were ecstatic to hear about their retirement adventures together. Our bartender Bobby became very close to them and when we heard of this tragedy, he knew we had to dedicate something to them. Thus, the set up “memorial” was formed. 2 beers sat at their usual bar seats.”
The restaurant’s spokesperson said everyone knew the Maces and enjoyed their contagious energy.
“We are so thankful for the time that they spent with us at TYB steakhouse. On the behalf of everyone at Ron Lahody’s Trust Your Butcher Steakhouse, our hearts are with their families and everyone impacted by this tragic accident.”
No charges have been filed in the case, but the accident remains open and under investigation by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.
Hoffman could not speak on the specifics of the case because it is still active but said it will be forwarded to him once the investigation is complete.
“I’ll take a look at it and if I see any sort of any potential criminal liability on the other driver’s fault, I’ll have to forward that on to a special prosecutor because I’m far too close to the Mace family to make an impartial decision,” Hoffman said.
Qualls said this is a reminder for all drivers on the road to ‘look twice, save a life,’ as you are out on the road.