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Photos: Deputies show support for fallen officer’s daughter at graduation

Karlee Burdette was just 2 years old when her dad died in the line of duty; more than 30 deputies supported her while she gave her valedictorian speech

By Sarah Calams

STARR, S.C. — A high school valedictorian, who lost her police officer dad nearly 16 years ago, had the support of more than 30 sheriff’s deputies during her graduation ceremony Thursday. reported that Karlee Burdette’s dad, Master Deputy Alex Burdette, died as he was on his way home after shift in 2005. He was struck and killed while directing traffic around a car. Burdette delivered her valedictorian speech at the same school her dad graduated at. Among the crowd were more than 30 of her dad’s colleagues, watching proudly as she spoke while wearing her dad’s cap and gown.

“I had to get a little bit creative to find a way to get him to be here. And so I thought I would wear his cap and gown as a way to honor him and also to have him with me on that stage,” Burdette said.

And although Burdette didn’t have her dad present at the ceremony, her mom, Nicole, said “she had a whole bunch of dads” instead.

“They’ve always been there to support her and support us. It’s been 16 years, and that hasn’t changed,” she said.

Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride said they’re “super excited and proud” of Burdette.

“Because we’re a family and so they’re like extended family members to us and so it’s just proud dad moments for all of us,” McBride said. “He’s so proud, smiling down on her today. And she’s going to do, we just know she’s going to do big great things.”