HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – From law enforcement officials to Hampton Road residents, thousands spent Tuesday saying goodbye to Trooper Chad Dermyer.
“Nobody is immune to the pain that is felt from a tragedy like this,” said Maryland Transit Authority Officer Leroy Posey.
Liberty Baptist Church’s parking lot in Hampton was occupied by mostly strangers from near and far.
“We all stick together,” added Maryland Transit Authority Officer Robert Gordon. “When one of us goes down we all have to support everybody. It’s just what we do.”
Patrol cars from Harrisonburg to Prince William and Henrico Counties and even Vermont were there.
“You never know when it is going to be one of us in that situation,” said Sergeant May Fong with Pittsburgh Police. “When you go to answer a call you never know what happens.”
Most of the officers never meet Dermyer, and that wasn’t the case for Wisconsin Officer Jenn Schaaf
“He was an exceptional officer,” Schaaf added. “He was an amazing officer.”
Schaaf, who now works for Mt. Horeb Police in Wisconsin worked side-by-side with Dermyer in Jackson, Michigan. She didn’t think twice about making the trip to Hampton Roads.
“I don’t think anybody can train you for this type situation and how to react to it,” Schaff said. “When it’s one of your friends you don’t know what else to do.”
The procession route from Liberty Baptist to the cemetery in Gloucester was 30 miles long. People from the community lined the sidewalks as the patrol cars drove by.
“It should have never happened,” added Hampton resident Marquita Lewis. “He was doing his job.”
The sidewalk traffic along the always busy Big Bethel Road in Hampton came to a stand still.
“I’m out here to support the police officers,” said Newport News resident Terri Holden. “We are losing far too many.”
The sound of police choppers echoed on this somber day as they passed by wanting to pay their respects to not only Trooper Dernyer, but also for his brothers and sisters in blue.
“Friends and family are mourning so you just want to let them know that somebody out there does care,” Lewis added.
Many of these people have never met the fallen trooper. Many of them don’t know what his family is going through. Terri Holden knows the feeling too well; years ago an officer in her family died in the line of duty and she had to sit in the limo as it passed the crowds.
“To see people who were grieving with us and to see what we had lost was tremendous for our healing,” Holden said.
With heavy hearts the community was there as they watched over somebody who died watching over the community.
“This is the ultimate sacrifice,” Holden added. “Every one of them on a day to day basis when they step out the door and they put on the badge they are potentially sacrificing everything.”