Officer Dennis Gorlewski was en route to a non-emergency call for police about 1:25 p.m. on March 25, 1987. He stopped in the northbound lane of S. 35th Street, preparing to turn left on W. National Avenue, when he was struck by a dump truck that was traveling eastbound and had run a red light.
Several witnesses reported the dump truck was traveling at a high rate of speed and ran the red light before striking the officer. The force of the impact carried the motorcycle into a pickup truck and pushed them both into a light pole about 50 feet away. Officer Gorlewski was pinned beneath the front of the pickup truck. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex.
The collision occurred just two days after police motorcycles returned to the street from winter storage. Chief Ziarnik ended the practice of using motorcycles year round that winter.
Officer Dennis Gorlewski was 50 years old at the time of his death and was appointed to the Milwaukee Police Department in 1960. He became part of the motorcycle unit in 1964. He left behind a wife and two children.