Three years before Cache County Deputy Sheriff Charles Dickey was killed, he and his wife, Patricia, adopted a child with Down's syndrome.

A year before Dickey died, they adopted their second Down's syndrome child.When Dickey was killed in a car accident on his way to a family fight on March, 18, 1984, leaving Patricia alone with their two handicapped toddlers, she wanted to know why God would let that happen.

"I wondered why the Lord would take him away from me after we had adopted these two kids. They had been given up by their parents to start with, then all of a sudden, their dad was ripped away from them."

Dickey was killed instantly when his speeding car went out of control on a lonely stretch of country road. He was going "hot" to the scene of a family fight, Patricia said, because the wife called the department's emergency number and said her husband was hitting her and threatening to kill her. Suddenly, the line went dead. Dickey thought she was in serious trouble, Patricia said.

Patricia knew her husband was dead as soon as she went to answer the door in the middle of the night and saw the sheriff, his lieutenant and her next-door neighbor standing on the porch.

"I knew if Charlie was OK, they wouldn't have all three been there."

Sarah, 1, was too little to understand that her daddy was gone. But Ryan, 3, was devastated.

"He went through periods where he had diarrhea constantly," Patricia said. "He would bang his head a lot. We had this big portrait painted of my husband. I came into the room one day and Ryan was sitting under the portrait, banging his head on the wall and crying.

"I would tell him his father had gone to Heavenly Father and he would think he could go visit him like he went to visit Grandma. He would say, `Let's go to Heavenly Father's house and see Daddy.' "

Even today, her son mentions his father when he sees a police car. "Daddy died," he often says. "I miss him."

The couple's children were a special comfort to Patricia in those early years.

The Dickeys were unable to have any children of their own. "We had some friends who had a Down's syn-drome child, so we started thinking about a special-needs child. We put out our feelers, and these children were the ones that came up. They were the ones that felt right to us. That's why we went with them.

"After we had adopted one, we decided having two handicapped children wouldn't be any more difficult than one.

"I grew up with a sister who was mentally handicapped and she seemed to always get left behind. My younger brothers and sisters grew past her. Her friends grew past her. I thought that was really sad. This way, they would each have an ally. They would have someone who knew what they were going through - a buddy. So we decided to adopt another one."

Patricia has remarried. Her name is now Patricia Miller. Her husband was also widowed, Patricia said. He had four children from his previous marriage. The couple has since had one child together.

She still misses Charlie. "I'm still not handling his death well. We were really close. We had a great marriage. He was my best friend. I miss him terribly all the time."