RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Funeral services were announced for the North Carolina State Trooper John Horton, who tragically died in a crash in Rutherford County this week.
The 15-year veteran leaves behind a wife and six children.
Trooper John Horton and a motorcyclist he had stopped for a traffic stop both died on Monday night when they were hit and killed by another trooper who was responding to the scene. That trooper, James Horton, is the brother of trooper John Horton, who died in the accident.
A procession of law enforcement vehicles escorted the body of fallen Trooper Horton on Friday at 11 a.m. The procession left Harrelson Funeral Services in Forest City, traveling to Isothermal Community College.
It was a somber day in Rutherford County as people from across North Carolina turned out to honor Trooper John Horton. People in this community say he was more than just a trooper and his impact was immeasurable.
Holly Byars and her children lined the procession route for trooper Horton. “We’re out here to support the Horton family as they transport his body, my daughter goes to school with their son.”
Jamie Moore added “I just think it’s wonderful that we have so many people in the state of North Carolina that can come out and show their support for this falling off.”
Law Enforcement and first responders from across the area also showed up in numbers to pay respect.
“This week has just been hard to fathom, you know, is some you can’t get wrap your mind around is an agency and what are we doing? Where do we go? What do we do for the family,” said 1st Sergeant Chris Knox, Public Information Officer for North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Jennifer Fredell-Saucier, the wife of a State Trooper said “It’s devastating this family is going through and you know, there’s a lot of good people in the world but the Horton family, they’re, they’re an amazing tight knit faithful family that is so tight knit and I’m just I’m devastated for everything they’re going through right now.”
People in this community say he was more than just a trooper and his impact was immeasurable.
Fredell-Saucier shared a moment Trooper Horton had with a driver a few weeks ago. “There was a lady that he pulled over a couple of weeks ago and she had a dead tag and she said she knew she had a dead tag and she said, Oh man, I’m gonna get a ticket,” Fredell-Saucier recounted the story. “He didn’t give her a ticket, he gave her a warning ticket and he also gave her $20 to give to her kids to buy their dinner that night.”
Trooper John Horton meant so much to this area that some called him the unofficial mayor.
“At the same time that it’s so sad, it’s so beautiful to see everybody come together and support, line the streets, hold up signs, hold up flags and just be there to support the family. And these troopers, they’re hurting,” said Fredell-Saucier.
“You hear people talk about good people that they know. And then they talk about great people they know. And everybody talks about John being a great person that they know and loved and really admired and speaks volume to him,” said First Sergeant Knox.
Fredell-Saucier added, “John Horton was one of the good ones, there’s a song ‘One of the good ones’ he was one of the good ones, so he’ll be greatly missed.”
A public viewing for Master Trooper John Horton was held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7. The viewing took place at Isothermal Community College Foundation on Rapid Court in Forest City.
After the viewing, the body of Trooper John S. Horton was ceremoniously carried by the North Carolina Troopers Association Caisson Unit around the ICC lake leading up to funeral services. The community and the Highway Patrol are heartbroken by Trooper John Horton’s death. “It really shook me up. It really did,” said Tommy Baldwin, a friend of Trooper John Horton. “Then when I got out here, people coming in and talking about it.”
Baldwin says it’s been a somber day at his store, Earl’s Short Stop, and in this community.
“It’s been pretty somber, it has. Normally, you know, people coming in and out are always laughing and joking. It’s not quite that right now. Everybody is upset. People that knew him and people that didn’t know him.”
On Monday morning at the scene of the fatal crash, one woman brought flowers. A short time later, a man who went to school with Trooper Horton came and put up a cross.
On Monday afternoon, a long procession of law enforcement and other emergency vehicles from many agencies made its way to the Harrelson Funeral Home in Forest City to bring home the body of Trooper John Horton.
Many in the community came to show their respect with American flags, hands over hearts, and tears.
Horton, a 15-year Highway Patrol veteran, was a family man, and according to friends, a popular figure in this community.
“He was always friendly, he would speak to everybody in here and he was just one of the guys that when you came in, you were glad to see him. He would just brighten your morning just a little bit, that’s the way he always came across to me,” Baldwin said.
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