Funeral procession honors Mich. trooper killed in car crash

Dozens of police agencies stood and saluted in honor of Trooper Caleb Starr

By Samuel J. Robinson and Joel Bissell, Walker, Mich.

MASON, Mich. — A solemn funeral procession honoring a fallen Michigan State Police trooper made its way through his hometown near Lansing on Saturday.

The vehicle procession through Mason on Saturday, Aug. 8, honored Trooper Caleb Starr, who died after his patrol vehicle was hit by a woman accused of drunken driving.

Officers Saturday turned on their emergency lights in tribute to Starr, 33, who died July 31 of injuries sustained in the July 10 crash near Saranac. Officers from dozens of police agencies stood and saluted as they said goodbye to Trooper Starr. American flags lined the road and two firetrucks hung an American flag over the roadway for the procession.

Trooper Caleb Starr died July 31, 2020 from injuries he sustained after being struck by a suspected drunk driver.
Trooper Caleb Starr died July 31, 2020 from injuries he sustained after being struck by a suspected drunk driver. (Photo/Michigan State Police)

Along with the officers, dozens of people came from all over mid-Michigan to pay their respects.

Lisa Perkins of Dewitt and her husband, Jon, waved flags on the street corner.

“We came out today to support the family of Trooper Starr and to support the police officers, we really feel like they are in a hard place right now and they need all the support,” Lisa Perkins said.

Though the memorial service Saturday morning was private, with limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral home offered a live-streamed video of the service online.

Around 10 p.m. on July 10, a woman driving east on Grand River Avenue, west of Nash Highway, crossed the center line and struck Starr’s westbound patrol vehicle head-on, state police said. The woman was also seriously injured.

Starr was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where he died. Police allege that the other driver was intoxicated.

“This incident was caused by a drunk driver and this was very preventable, it was preventable. So the simple message behind that is if you drink, don’t drive and you can prevent a tragedy like this,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Brian Oleksyk, who spoke to reporters.

Thomasina Shani Jones, 28, of Montezuma Creek, Utah, was arrested Monday Aug. 3, at a home in Ionia. Jones was charged with second-degree murder, operating with a high blood-alcohol content with a prior conviction, operating while license is suspended, revoked or denied, causing death, and operating while intoxicated.

Jones is being held without bond, awaiting her next court hearing.

Starr joined the state police force in September 2018 and was assigned to the agency’s Lakeview post.

He lived in Mason with his wife, Rachael, and their daughters, ages 5 and 2.

A GoFundMe page was established in support of his family, and the Michigan State Troopers Assistance Fund is also accepting donations by mail or online. The Michigan State Police Troopers Association, which manages the fund, reminds donors to indicate their donation is intended to support the Starr family.

Those who would like to pay their respects to the trooper’s family can leave a message here.

©2020, Walker, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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