CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - Much of the Charlestown community is coming together to say goodbye to one of its own.
The visitation for Sgt. Ben Bertram began Monday afternoon at Charlestown High School. Bertram, a Charlestown police officer, was killed Wednesday night when he crashed into a tree during a high-speed chase with a suspect.
“It’s just really hard to fathom; it just takes your breath away,” city employee John Spencer said. “Officer Bertram has been around here for years, knew a lot people. I knew his relatives. It just absolutely pulls at your heartstrings.”
Added fellow Charlestownian Bobbi-Rei Murphy: “When it’s one of your own, up close and personal, it just hit home hard.”
Outside Orscheln Farm and Home, where Murphy works, a sign sitting near the road pays respects. The farm supply store isn’t the only business doing so, as signs, wreaths and blue ribbons all hang in Ben’s honor, to let his family, and his police family know they love and support them.
“Just to see our citizens and businesses step up is absolutely amazing, and it fills your heart with warmth,” Spencer said.
Down the road, the path to Charlestown High School was lined with flags for Bertram’s visitation. People who knew Ben well and total strangers came to pay their respects.
“In here, it’s just sobering, it’s just solemn and every time I think about it, every time I see a picture, I think this shouldn’t be happening,” said Lt. Glenn Jackson, Jeffersonville Police K9 commander. Jackson trained Bertram with his first K9 Kubo and his new K9 Franco. Jackson said Bertram was a dedicated, caring handler to those dogs.
“K9?” Jackson asked. “You won’t find one better,” he said, talking about Ben’s devotion to training and caring for those dogs.
As they prepare to lay Bertram to rest, people around the small town want his family to know they stand with them.
“To just see the outpouring of love in this community, there’s not words for it ... there just isn’t words for it,” Murphy said.
A second visitation is scheduled for Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Charlestown High School with the funeral service to follow.