ELYRIA, Ohio -- Thousands of law enforcement officers, family members and complete strangers paid their respects to fallen Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez today.
The 48-year-old father of three was struck and killed by a vehicle along Interstate 90 west on Sept. 15 while working traffic enforcement.
His children spoke at the funeral inside the Ewing Field House in Elyria. "We're extremely proud of our father and the amazing brotherhood he joined. He chose to protect people and to protect us." Velez's daughter called him her hero.
As the procession began, hundreds of officers, with their lights blinking, drove beneath a huge American flag. It was a powerful moment.
There was a 6-mile procession to Calvary Cemetery on North Ridge Road.
Many people lined streets, and students came out of their schools to honor him as the procession passed by.
Velez started his training with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in 1989, and spent time at the Canfield, Elyria, Warren and Cleveland posts. He recently celebrated his 48th birthday and is survived by his three children.
Joshua J. Gaspar, 37, of Columbia Station, was arrested and charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in his death.