A West Virginia state trooper wipes tears from his eyes while he and a fellow trooper stand by the coffin of Trooper Larry G. Hacker Monday In Gilmer County. Hacker was shot while investigating a disturbance last week In Ritchie County.
More Than 1,000 Attend Service
Slain Trooper Laid To Rest
By JULIE CRYSER
CEDARVILLE - Slain Trooper Larry G. Hacker was laid to rest here Monday high atop a secluded mountain, beneath a hazy spring sky. About 100 mourners, family and friends, gathered at the grave site, while a contingent of West Virginia state troopers honored their fallen brother.
"It's like losing a member of your family. He's a brother, we're all brothers in this profession," said Sgt. J.K. Riffle, a state trooper based in Martinsburg.
Family members crowded under the canvas tent. Pink, red and yellow carnations lined the fence around the grave site in Gilmer County. Death once more invaded the ranks of fellow troopers.
The flag that draped Hacker's coffin was folded and given to his wife, Diane, in a solemn ceremony.
Earlier in the day more than 1,000 people packed Ritchie County High School's gymnasium to pay their respects to the officer who died in the line of duty last week investigating a dispute between neighbors.
Dennis Ferguson, 67, of Pullman has been charged with shooting Hacker, 34, of Harrisville.
Lines and lines of state trooper vehicles filled the parking lot outside the gymnasium in Harrisville. Inside, troopers filed into their seats in the center of the gym in dress uniform.
Troopers in three rows politely lined up in the rear, as family and friends spilled over into the seats saved for troopers.
Two troopers stood at attention on either end of Hacker's coffin. Troopers from every county in the state and several others states came to pay their respects. Hacker was the first West Virginia
trooper to be killed in the line of duty since 1989.
Mourners joined in singing "Victory in Jesus," a song selected by Hacker's family, before the funeral ceremony. The Rev. Mark Minney told those in attendance that family, friends and the state "stands in a state of shock." Minney said he had a great deal of respect for Hacker and he understood that Hacker had chosen a dangerous occupation for the good of citizens.
Minney reminded people that Hacker was more than a police officer. Hacker was a man, with friends, family and grandparents. Minney asked mourners to look past the veil of tears and heavy hearts, saying Hacker was a man of Christ and had been taken home.
Trooper Ronald Blevins, who had trained Hacker as a rookie, said no one could meet Hacker without calling him friend. Blevins described Hacker as an avid outdoorsman, proud husband, father and trooper.
"He exemplified what a police officer is," Blevins said during his moving eulogy.
Looking up to the heavens, Blevins said he knew where Hacker was. "Larry you look for me when I get there, OK?" he said.
After the funeral service, troopers lined up outside the gymnasium as in a salute to Hacker, as his body was carried out, the American flag draping his coffin. A line at least a mile long of state trooper vehicles, with their lights flashing, lumbered down the winding roads from Harrisville to Cedarville, a two-hour trek.
Along the trail people lined the road, hats in hand or hands across their hearts, bidding farewell to the trooper. Small children waved, as the caravan made its way to the grave site.
In Smithville, 40 miles from Parkersburg, the flag at the post office stood at half-staff, while spectators watched from the tops of cars or their front porches as the procession passed.
Hacker's grave site was a fitting spot for a lover of the outdoors to be laid to rest. A treacherous dirt road led to the top of a mountain, where a crisp wind blew gently through the tree tops.
Here, in the solitude of nature, mourners said their last goodbyes.
Sentinel photo by CJ Parker
A West Virginia state trooper stands by a wreath at the funeral of Trooper Larry G. Hacker In Cedarville Monday afternoon.