Rocky Mount, N.C. — A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper was laid to rest Wednesday after being killed in the line of duty over the weekend.
Trooper Bobby Gene DeMuth Jr. was deploying stop sticks Saturday morning during a high-speed chase through Wake and Nash counties when he was struck by a car near Spring Hope.
State flags flew at half-staff Wednesday in honor of DeMuth, a 12-year Highway Patrol veteran who was stationed in Rocky Mount.
More than 2,000 people attended services, and hundreds of troopers stood in formation in front of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount as his body in a flag-draped coffin arrived in a horse-drawn carriage – behind it, a rider-less horse with an empty saddle.
A sign outside the church read, "Jesus loves the family of Trooper Gene DeMuth."
DeMuth, 42, leaves behind a wife and an 8-year-old son.
"It kind of puts things in perspective that life is precious," First Sgt. Jeff Gordon with the Highway Patrol said. "If you get anything out of this, reach out to your neighbor, reach out to your friends. Tell them you love them. Tell your kids you love them, because you never know, this may be your last day."
According to his obituary, DeMuth joined the Highway Patrol in 2003, having previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps, both the Wilson and Edgecombe County sheriff's offices and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.
Saturday morning, he was trying to help Raleigh police stop a 1995 Nissan 200SX on eastbound U.S. Highway 64 when he was killed.
Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 40, of Williamston, was arrested on charges stemming from another crime and later charges of murder, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, driving while impaired and resisting a public officer.
He was being held at Central Prison Tuesday evening.