CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - It's been less than a week since Sgt. Ben Bertram was killed in a crash during a high-speed chase through southern Indiana.
Tuesday, the Charlestown community laid Bertram to rest.
The funeral service held inside Charlestown High School brought hundreds out to say their final goodbyes.
Charlestown is a small, tight-knit community, and so is the police community around southern Indiana. People here knew and loved Bertram. Hundreds of people wanted to be here for his visitation and funeral service, but saying goodbye proved tough.
“It’s a hard day for everyone in there,” Jeffersonville Police Officer Alyssa Wright said.
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Charlestown High School's gym filled up quickly as hundreds pour inside to say their goodbyes. Wright was one of the many officers there to pay her respects to Bertram. She said she knew Bertram well and trained in the same K-9 unit as Bertram.
“Coming here and seeing how many people he truly impacted, I could never have imagined,” Wright said. “I don’t think any of us could ever have imagined exactly what we were walking into today.”
Around 45 K-9s and their handlers filed inside to the funeral service to walk past Bertram’s casket with Ben’s own K-9s, Kubo and Franco, leading the way.
Tears filled the heavy silence outside. Music filled the pauses in the ceremony outside that followed the service.
His dogs looked on as the officers saluted their respect.
The support from Bertram’s brothers in blue was seen strongly from officers around the community and some coming from as far away as New York.
“It’s an absolute honor to be here, just to pay our respects to him and the family,” NYPD Officer Anthony Viania said. “They have no clue who we are. Most people, when we go up to the line, they do a second look at our patch and say, oh my God, New York is here. So, it’s just an honor to be here, meet the family pay our respects.”
A call came over the radio, a final call for Bertram. Those at the service heard “Charlestown Police Department. Sergeant Benton Hurley Bertram, David 50 is 1042. He has gone home for the final time.”
Family and friends were supported by the community and fellow officers to give Bertram a proper sendoff.
Everyone around the Charlestown and police community who knew Bertram described him as funny, a caring, animal lover and a dedicated police officer. That positive and caring attitude won’t soon be forgotten.