• After funeral, how state helps trooper's family

    By: KIRO 7 STAFF


    EVERETT, Wash. - The procession Thursday morning was the largest this year in Washington State: 500 police cars closing Interstate 5 traveling to the memorial for trooper Sean O'Connell.

    O'Connell, 38, was a married father of two who died late last month after his motorcycle collided with a box truck in Skagit County.

    Former Snohomish County sheriff John Lovick, who supervised O'Connell years ago as a patrol sergeant, told how O'Connell was an outstanding man. His colleagues recalled how O'Connell loved his family, and even people who hadn't met O'Connell stopped on overpasses to pay respects.

    Police from as far as Michigan filled the Comcast Event Center in Everett, where Gov. Jan Inslee gave O'Connell's widow the flag from his casket. The governor also ordered flags at state offices fly at half-staff.

    "I know that there's nothing I can say nor do that will replace the hole in your heart right now," State Patrol Chief John Batiste said. "But know that we will always be there for you."

    Here’s how state, federal and private organizations plan to take care of the trooper’s family.

    The family is eligible for at least $511,000 in benefit payments, including payments from the Department of Justice, National Sheriff's Association and the National Rifle Association.

    O'Connell's children may be exempt from tuition and other fees at Washington universities. Financial assistance is also available from several organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

    Burial costs are covered, and under Washington law the spouse gets 60 percent of the fallen officer's salary. Children also get financial benefits from the state pension system. A state bill also requires access to health insurance, federal and state workers compensation is provided, and life insurance is available.

    A New York native, O'Connell was a Navy sailor on the U.S.S. Lincoln. He met his wife in Everett, and at the start of his memorial, the unit he rode with for more than a decade gathered for a moment of silence.

    O'Connell, who died May 31, is the 49th line-of-duty death this year in the United States and the only from Washington. The state has had 277 line-of-duty deaths overall.

    "As we leave this place today, know that we will never forget 1076: Sean M. O'Connell Jr.," Batiste said, using O'Connell's badge number. "We love him, we love him dearly."

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