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Heartwarming: Ky. police line sidewalk to welcome fallen officer’s son on first day of school

Officers from Louisville Metro Police Department, which is where the boy’s father had served, lined the sidewalks as Riley Cottongim walked into school


Louisville Metro Police Department

By Sarah Roebuck

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A 5-year-old boy had a special welcome on his first day of kindergarten.

As Riley Cottongim walked into the school, the sidewalk was lined with officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department, where his father, Officer Zach Cottongim, had served, ABC News reports.

Cottongim was killed in the line of duty in December 2021 when he was struck by a vehicle as he inspected an abandoned vehicle on the side of an interstate.

“I could just feel Zach. I could feel him standing there with them,” Cottongim’s widow, Jamie Cottongim, told Good Morning America. “I just felt so close with him in that moment and to see Riley smiling and high-fiving all of them, it was amazing.”

Along with his wife and 5-year-old son, Zach Cottongim is survived by his second son Alexander, who is now 2.

Jamie also works for LMPD in the records department. She said the officers being at the school was a shock for both her and Riley.

“He had an amazing day. He told me it was the best day ever,” Jamie told Good Morning America. “His teacher also told me that by the time he got to class, he had the biggest smile on his face.”