Video: Thousands attend funeral for Mich. trooper killed on duty

A gym was used to try to accommodate a crowd that grew to nearly 3K, with mourners spilling out into a side room

By L.L. Brasier
Detroit Free Press

FENTON, Mich. — They came from New Mexico and Illinois, from North Carolina and Oklahoma — their uniforms pressed and  some in white gloves. Hundreds of police officers from around the country showed up to say good-bye to Michigan State Trooper Chad Wolf, who was killed Friday when his patrol motorcycle was struck by a vehicle on Dixie Highway in northern Oakland County.

The funeral was held in the Fenton High School gymnasium to accommodate a crowd that grew to nearly 3,500, with mourners spilling out into a side room to watch the two-hour service on a screen.

There was laughter and tears as family and friends recounted a friendly, deeply religious man who loved to sing and play the guitar. His wife and four children sat in the front row. His casket was draped in blue nearby.

His brother-in-law Dean Slothers read short statements his children made, recalling their father playing catch, pushing them in swings, making them laugh. "I love Daddy," each child wrote.

"He saw hope in everyone," Slothers said.

Lt. Mario Gonzales, Wolf's supervisor, recalled Wolf's friendly smile and willingness to help. And he had a message for Wolf's widow and children.

"I have good news and bad. The good news is this MSP family is going to take care of you," he said, referring to the Michigan State Police. "We're going to make sure you never go without. The bad news is that we will probably get on your nerves."

In the days after Wolf's death, Gonzales asked colleagues to text a single word to best describe Wolf. "Kind, generous, strong," Gonzales said, appearing to struggle with tears. "Great, caring, faithful, uplifiting..."

"I'm not going to focus on how he died," Gonzales said. "I'm going to focus on how he lived."

Wolf touched lives far beyond his work in law enforcement.

Sarah and Scott Tipton of Waterford, in their 20s, met when they were in Wolf's church youth group as teenagers in Clarkston. "He was just a great guy," said Scott Tipton.  They remembered him as a faithful Christian who connected with young people.

Dave Buzanowski drove his Harley Davidson up from Taylor in the morning heat to pay his respects. His son, Brandon, 32, is a Michigan state trooper, so Wolf's death felt like that of a family member.  Brandon Buzanowski has been one of the troopers assigned to help Wolf's family. "They're parked outside the house, making sure they're there if they need anything," Buzanowski said.

Wolf, 38, of Fenton was killed early Friday morning when a 72-year-old man pulling a utility trailer struck his motorcycle on Dixie Highway near Clarkston. Wolf was wedged under the trailer and dragged nearly 3 miles before the man, unaware he'd hit someone, pulled into a rest stop in Holly.

The driver has not been charged.

An Illinois state trooper, driving his motorcycle on his way to attend Wolf's funeral Tuesday, was injured in a collision on eastbound I-94 near Chelsea. He was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to recover.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dave Kaiser said troopers get up every morning not knowing what they face.

"You don't know if you're going to save a life, take a life or give your life," he said. "Trooper Wolf gave his up serving others."

Copyright 2015 the Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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