PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — More than 700 friends, relatives and law enforcement officers turned out for a memorial Monday honoring an eastern Oregon correctional officer killed when he stopped to help a stranded motorist.
The life and selflessness of 42-year-old Buddy Ray Herron should inspire others, Oregon Corrections Chief Max Williams said.
Hundreds of Northwest police, firefighters, correctional officers and paramedics attended the ceremony.
“Words alone cannot express our feelings of grief and loss,” Williams told the crowd, describing Herron as someone who lived with a deep sense of duty and treated everyone he met as a neighbor.
Herron was able to call 911 to report he’d been stabbed late on the night of Nov. 28. He was on his way to work at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. He was pronounced dead at a Pendleton hospital.
The Umatilla County district attorney’s office has charged Joshua Weeks, 22, with murder. Weeks has been denied bail and is set to appear in court Wednesday.
Herron is survived by his wife, Kimberly, and three sons and a daughter, ages 11 to 20.
Williams advised Herron’s children to “honor him by following his example of hard work, duty and compassion.”
Herron was well known in his tiny — population 184 — hometown of Helix as a volunteer with the Helix Rural Fire Protection District, a rural neighborhood watch member and someone who tried always to be a Good Samaritan.
Pastor Mac McCallum of the Helix Community Church recalled Herron as a dear friend and fellow firefighter. In the wake of his slaying, McCallum said some have questioned whether they should help others.
“Let Buddy’s life and death be a challenge to us to not be overcome with evil and fear,” he said.
After the service, a 10-block procession of fire trucks, police and rescue vehicles accompanied the casket to the 132-year-old Helix Cemetery in the rolling wheat country north of Pendleton. There, family and close friends attended a graveside service.