June 22, 2007

Kelly James Fredinburg

Kelly James Fredinburg was remembered Thursday as a dedicated husband, father, son, brother, friend and deputy.

More than 1,000 people filled the Salem Armory Auditorium; hundreds more lined a procession route in his honor and scores of officers stood at attention for a final goodbye to the the Marion County sheriff's deputy.

Fredinburg, 33, is the first Marion County deputy to die in the line of duty. He lost his life Saturday night in a head-on crash on Highway 99E near Gervais while responding as backup to a physical dispute. A 19-year-old passenger in the other car also died.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies from around the state and the Northwest sent representatives to salute one of their own.

The service

Inside the Salem Armory Auditorium, during a two-hour, 15-minute memorial service, Fredinburg's family, colleagues and friends described a man who had achieved what he wanted most -- to be a cop.

"He served with pride, dignity and distinction," Marion County Sheriff Raul Ramirez said. "We at the sheriff's office were proud to serve with Kelly.

"The loss impacted all of us who knew him a little or a lot."

Several of Fredinburg's family members, including his wife, sister, brother and father, took turns at the podium and shared funny stories and memories.

His wife, Chris, a former law enforcement officer herself, read from "A Deputy's Prayer," interjecting examples of how her husband lived up to the prayer's requests of courage, strength, dedication and concern.

Several fellow deputies shared professional and personal stories about Fredinburg, who started his law enforcement career with the Polk County Sheriff's Office. He joined the Marion County Sheriff's Office in 2006.

A theme throughout the testimony was that Fredinburg -- the man with the goofy smile and red cheeks -- would have wanted everyone to laugh on this day, not cry.

He would have been pleased, because there were as many chuckles as there were tears.

Several dignitaries attended the service, including Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Walt Beglau and several Marion County judges.

"He was doing what was in his heart," Chaplain Todd Pynch said. "He was going to back up someone in need."

Many of the officers in attendance wore a shroud -- a black band -- over their badges.

"Kelly has truly touched so many lives," Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe said before asking the crowd to stand and give Fredinburg a round of applause "for a job well done and doing it right."

Linda Adams, a teacher at Judson Middle School, attended the service because she wanted to show support to Fredinburg's wife and his daughter, who's a student at the school. Adams said the sheer volume of law enforcement present was overwhelming.

"They do a great service for us and protect us. We need to give them that support," Adams said.

The service wrapped up with a video tribute that included photos of Fredinburg as a baby and of him as a father cuddling his two daughters.

The procession

As early as 2:30 p.m., well wishers were lining streets along a 10.5-mile procession route from the Armory to downtown Salem and then southeast to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Even with the procession starting nearly an hour late, people of all ages dotted 17th Street NE between Sunnyview Road and State Street.

At 17th and Grant streets NE, scarcely two blocks from the procession's inception, Susan Moss and Audrey Broeke walked their dogs from nearby and awaited the spectacle, which drew hundreds of patrol cars from departments in almost every corner of the state.

"This is something different, a lot like a parade, but with a lot more meaning to it," Moss said.

"I don't normally like going to funerals," Broeke added. "But I'll pay respects and watch as it goes by; that's the least I can do."

Across the street Gail Coulson and her daughter Joy and son Zachary had walked over from 18th Street NE.

"We wanted his wife and children to know that we appreciated the sacrifice," Coulson said, holding back tears. "It just seems so senseless ... and that poor man who was trying to help him -- I can't imagine."

Many along the route shared Coulson's sentiments.

"I felt so sorry from reading that article about that young man who tried to rescue him," said Ellen Holden, holding back tears, from a shady perch on a rock at the 17th and Grant intersection. "Oh, what nightmares he is going to have."

Susan Hegdal of north Salem agreed.

"When I read this morning about how that 22-year-old guy tried to save him, I thought about how he's going to have such a scar with him," said Hegdal, who witnessed the procession from 17th and C streets. "If only he had a fire extinguisher. I would have been thinking the same thing."

Further south at 17th Street and Nebraska Avenue NE in front of Englewood Church, Lynnette Yoder sat on the corner with her three kids Grant, Allie and Elijah and nephew, Zion.

"My husband (Mike Yoder) is at the funeral," Yoder said. "He works in corrections and asked that we come here and show our respect. It is really important to their dad that they see this."

In the span of a few minutes, Yoder had informed several inquiring passerby's of the procession, a few of whom stopped to pay their own respects.

"I heard about it from that lady, and I actually saw people with the flags," said David Moraga, who stopped with his girlfriend to watch. "It's part of the patriotic spirit, you know? With law enforcement, they protect us so we should show our respect."

In front of the Capitol, unaware of the upcoming procession, a woman read the bible in Russian into a microphone. The Bible Reading Marathon of Salem, which began at 6 a.m. Wednesday and will end at 3 p.m. Saturday, is an 8-year-old, non-stop event traditionally held there.

The blaring narrative was clear to pedestrians rounding the block to Court Street NE. Queny Ekpezu, an event coordinator, didn't know about Fredinburg's death or the procession.

Because the marathon is supposed to be continuous, he said, the group would lower the volume but not silence the reading as the procession passed.

When the procession reached the Capitol, workers from inside the building overtook the steps. The crowd on the sidewalks stood up and leaned over the curb with hands clasped behind backs to watch the somber motorcade.

From across the street, the reading became inaudible.

But Ekpezu changed his mind.

"We stopped totally to pay respect to the deputy. I think it was the wise thing to do," Ekpezu said.

"I felt it is a loss. He was serving his community."

At the normally busy intersection of Lancaster Drive and State Street, Deedra Harp couldn't come alone for the procession.

She was on the sidewalk near the Walgreen's parking lot with her three children and her mother.

"My heart hurts," Harp said, fighting tears. "My uncles were police officers. I took everything and put it aside to be here."

Harp had a message for the Fredinburgs.

"God bless his family, from the Harps," she said.

A few blocks away at State Street and 49th Avenue SE, Bend police officer Eric Hagan waited patiently. He'd made the almost three-hour trip on his motorcycle from Bend to Salem Thursday morning.

It was worth it.

"It feels good to see there's a camaraderie and brotherhood," Hagan said. "Although we don't work in the same agency, we understand -- we have the same job."

The final radio call

The procession concluded with a ceremony at the Oregon law enforcement training facility, where bagpipers and drummers from the Portland Highland Guard slowly played and led in the hearse and family vehicles on foot.

A REACH air ambulance hovered above, making several fly-bys while mounted officers from a joint law enforcement posse stood at attention at the top of a hill overlooking the ceremony.

Sheriff Ramirez said a prayer for Fredinburg and asked for a moment of silence.

"Never forget our fallen brother," Ramirez said.

An urn containing Fredinburg's remains was placed before a memorial dedicated to fallen law enforcement members. Officials said Fredinburg's name will be added to the wall.

Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" and the joint honor guard presented a gun salute. A bugler closed the ceremony with taps.

Over a loudspeaker system, police radio emergency dispatchers relayed a final radio call as a special announcement to Fredinburg's badge number, 185.

"Salem dispatch to Alpha 185."

Silence.

"Salem dispatch to Alpha 185."

"Alpha 185, end of shift."

Crackle.

"Gone, but not forgotten."

The Motorcade Passing the Capital

2 comments:

Molly said...

That was a very nice blog.

lawdawg715 said...

I agree with molly that is a very befitting blog about Kelly. I worked with Kelly a few times on different calls he came to help me on although we worked for diffrent sheriff's Offices. Kelly you are missed, that is for sure.