JAMAICA BEACH — Chief Andrew Douglas McLane, a veteran law enforcement officer whose illness recently forced him to take a leave of absence from the Jamaica Beach Police Department, died Saturday at a Houston hospital.
He was 49.
McLane became chief of police in 2008, just weeks before Hurricane Ike made landfall, causing widespread flooding and damaging much of the Upper Texas Coast.
Jamaica Beach Mayor Vic Pierson first met McLane early in 2008, when he was a candidate for police chief.
“The entire Jamaica Beach community is saddened by the loss of our chief,” Pierson said. “We want to be supportive of all who have loved him. He’s a good man and he fought a courageous battle.”
In McLane’s early years, he worked as an officer in Santa Fe and Jamaica Beach. He spent most of his law enforcement career patrolling the streets of Galveston. He rose to the rank of sergeant.
Sgt. W.R. Flores of the Texas Rangers said McLane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer. Flores’ father died of the same illness.
Flores was a deputy at the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office in the early 1980s when he met McLane, who at the time worked in Santa Fe. The two shared a good friendship for nearly 30 years.
“His biggest regret was he wouldn’t be around anymore to help the people in his life who needed it,” Flores said.
As McLane’s health declined, his family and friends found ways to comfort him.
Last month, McLane intended to have a gathering at his home, but friends didn’t let his hospitalization stop the occasion. The venue changed to the Galveston office of the Lighthouse Charity Team, where more than 100 people gathered to show their support.
Organizers used iPads to allow McLane to witness the event from his hospital room at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
A close friend
Galveston district court judges Susan Criss and Kerry Neves and active and retired police officers were among those who attended the event, along with McLane’s mother.
Criss first met McLane in the middle 1980s when she was a prosecutor at the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office and he worked at the Galveston Police Department. At the time, it was customary for prosecutors to ride with police officers to do felony intake until 4 a.m.
“Andy became one of my closest friends,” Criss said. “Every time I had my heart broken or needed to cry on his shoulder, he’d try to calm me down.”
When Criss left for private practice, McLane called on her to be his divorce lawyer.
“Andy wanted his china from the divorce so he could break it,” Criss said, noting his ex-wife attended the Galveston event to sell raffle tickets in support of McLane’s medical bills.
“Andy made us laugh so much over the years with his grin and sense of humor,” Criss said. “When you’re doing police work, you see the dark things, man’s inhumanity to man … He never lost his sense of humor or absolute love of people.”
McLane kept that attitude, despite his illness, Criss said.
“He was always trying to help other people, doing a benefit for somebody,” Criss said. “He was the most unselfish person I know. He fought this battle so hard this past year. He refused to give up fighting when he could have comfort over pain.”
McLane died Saturday at MD Anderson surrounded by family and friends, Criss said.