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Procession honors two Nevada troopers

Updated December 4, 2023 - 7:10 pm

Flashing emergency lights lit up West Sunset Road as sirens and horns blared early Saturday night from a parade of tow trucks and vehicles with the Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada Capitol Police.

The line of cars, trucks and motorcycles rolled down the street to the Nevada Highway Patrol Southern Command office to finish a memorial procession honoring the two Nevada Highway Patrol troopers killed Thursday.

The procession honored the memory of Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Abbate and trooper Alberto Felix, who authorities said were fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver while helping a driver on northbound Interstate 15.

The procession started at 4 p.m. at the Dula Community Center on East Bonanza Road, and went to U.S. 95, then southbound on Interstate 15 and headed from there to the westbound Interstate 215 before ending at the Nevada Highway Patrol office on Sunset Road.

In the Southern Command parking lot, a Nevada Highway Patrol vehicle sat covered in flowers with a black, white and blue American flag draped across the hood in tribute to the two fallen officers.

Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Buratczuk said the tribute car gives anyone in the community a place to mourn the fallen officers.

“It’s important that we give them a place to get some closure and to honor the life and legacy of Mike and Felix,” Buratczuk said. “This is a way that we do that. We put the car out here, people can come and leave flowers, messages. It really shows us that the public cares.”

Before the procession arrived at its destination, several people stopped by the tribute vehicle to leave flowers and pay their respects. Once it arrived, the dozens of people who drove up in the procession crowded around the car together.

Event organizers Amanda Douglas and Donald Ditsch said they initially expected for the procession to be a small gathering of tow truck drivers showing support for the fallen officers.

But they said law enforcement quickly coordinated with them to produce the police turnout and make sure the procession made it to the destination safely.

“It was just a 24-hour notice, and the response was just amazing.” Ditsch said. “I started calling at 11 o’clock yesterday morning. And this is the response I got.”

Many of the tow truck drivers knew the fallen officers from working with them before, including Enrique Garcia, a tow truck driver for Commerce Auto Towing.

Garcia said he worked with Abbate multiple times and said the officer was “really nice, quiet, but he was really cool.”

Police said in a press release that the memorial services for the troopers are not yet available and that information will be provided once dates, times and locations have been scheduled. But Buratczuk said a candlelight vigil honoring the fallen officers is planned for Wednesday.

Jemarcus Williams, 46, faces two counts each of reckless driving resulting in death, DUI resulting in death and failing to stop at the scene of a crash.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Shanon Clowers said in a brief court appearance Friday that Williams was “heavily intoxicated” at the Palms casino shortly before the crash.

Ditsch said the procession was also a call for drivers to obey traffic laws to better protect officers, tow truck drivers and everyone else.

“It’s really scary because that could’ve been me out there,” Garcia said about the crash.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Staff writer Brett Clarkson contributed to this story.

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