Community Gathers to Mourn Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Daniel Groves

March 21, 2019 GMT

Police cars snaked their way down Colorado 66 as the funeral procession for Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Dan Groves began on Thursday morning.

Law enforcement officers from 37 states began lining up before dawn, Mike Richardson, an Estes Valley Fire Prevention District spokesman, said.

Along Colorado 66, local resident Christie Laplant stopped to take a photo of a large American flag unfurled over the highway. Laplant has lived in the area for more than a decade but is originally from the Netherlands. For her, it is a unique sight and she was glad to be able to come and show her support for the fallen trooper.

“This is very special to see,” she said.

The procession will travel west on Colorado 66 to LifeBridge Church, 10345 Ute Highway, Longmont, where a service begins at 10 a.m.

Groves was killed March 13 while helping a stranded motorist on I-76 in Weld County during a blizzard. Groves was struck by another car while he was standing on the road side. No charges have been filed in connection with the trooper’s death.

Maureen Shirley was among those who came out to watch the flow of state patrol cars drive by her newly-bought Longmont home. Shirley has family members in law enforcement and she is holding them especially close to her heart today, she said.

“I wanted to show my support,” she said.

The new Coloradan just moved from Montana. When she drives along lonely stretches of western highways she always is sure to move over when she sees law enforcement on the side of the road, she said.

As the procession entered church parking lot, local residents gathered along Colorado 66 to pay their respects. The sun’s morning rays cast long shadows as the sound of bagpipes drifted through the air from the church’s parking lot. Muffled sniffles could be heard from community members standing along the highway.

The tragedy hit close to home for Kathy and Keith Wood, whose son, Chris Wood, has served 17 years in the state patrol. Kathy Wood held a bouquet of American flags in her hands as the sun rose over the hill to the east.

“You never know when the last time you will speak with him will be,” Keith Wood said.

Denise Navarro, who also stood along the road to pay respects, held an American flag in her hand. Hers was from the last law enforcement funeral she attended. Knowing she has a flag specifically for these occasions is a sobering reminder for her. Navarro interacts with law enforcement regularly on her shifts at a local King Soopers grocery store and she is sad to see another be killed in the line of duty, she said.

“Another hero is gone,” Navarro said.

Groves was the fourth Colorado trooper killed since 2015 while working a roadside accident. His death led Col. Matthew Packard to plead with motorists to pay attention , slow down and move over when they see an accident.

In 2017, the state legislature created a law that requires drivers to change lanes when they encounter law enforcement or highway workers. It was named in honor of Trooper Cody Donahue, who was struck and killed on Interstate 25 in Douglas County.

Groves joined the state patrol in 2007 after working in the technology field in Chicago. His first assignment was as a trooper on the roads in Frisco. He then moved to a new assignment in Denver before moving to Weld County to again work the roads after he was promoted to corporal.

Troopers from 37 different states lined the streets for the processional to honor Groves on Thursday morning. Karen Griggs, 19-year veteran of Colorado State Patrol, said she has attended four of these type of events over the last four years.

“It is rough any time you lose someone in the line of duty,” Griggs said. Groves was a “kind soul,” she added.

Groves is survived by his parents Howard and Eileen Groves of Illinois, his partner of more than two years, Eddie Gomez, his siblings and their spouses, and extended family, according to his obituary.

Among his colleagues, Groves was known as the man others turned to when they needed help, Packard said at a news conference after the death.

This is a developing story and will be updated.