CANAL FULTON – Community members took to the streets Saturday to honor Lawrence Township police officer Sean VanDenberg as his funeral procession passed through downtown.
Lisa Laterza and Michael Spencer, both of Canal Fulton and friends of the officer and his family, waited patiently in their vehicle for the procession to pass by to pay their respects.
"We came out today to show support for him, his blood family and family in blue," Laterza told the Canton Repository, "He was an amazing man, and we've known his family for years. ... He was kind to everyone."
VanDenberg, 53, was hospitalized in early December for serious medical conditions including COVID-19, and passed away on Christmas. Services took place at Northwest High School followed by a procession ending at the Chapel of the Cross in Orrville.
Marie Holliday, 42, also of Canal Fulton, stood along Cherry Street NW battling frigid temperatures to pay her respects — as dozens of police cruisers from across Northeast Ohio passed by.
"Sean was an amazing guy. He and his wife own the building where I work and whatever you needed he was there for you and he loved God, Christ, this community and his family," Holliday said, adding VanDenberg will be missed by all.
Outside the Lawrence Township Police Department, Jackson Township Police Chief Mark Brink stood along the roadway with others, saluting those participating in the procession as they drove by.
"These are our brothers. We've worked side-by-side with Sean, and we want to show our support for his family — and this is the way we do it," Brink said.
Law enforcement from East Cleveland, Cleveland, Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Canton, North Canton, Jackson Township, Stark County Sheriff's Office and more attended Saturday's funeral services and procession.
VanDenberg was married with four grown children. He began working in Lawrence Township in May 2013.
He was a field training officer and the department's firearms instructor, and a member on the Canton Metro SWAT Cooperative with Canton police and other Stark County departments. He also was a trained sniper with the Stark County SWAT team.
A GoFundMe account was created to help the officer's family, with donations nearing $25,000.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Funeral services set for Lawrence Twp. officer who died on Christmas