That's what Washington State Patrol trooper Sean O'Connell represented to his family and friends.
"If you knew these things about Sean, then you truly knew who he was," said the trooper's brother, Fran O'Connell.
O'Connell spoke briefly with reporters Wednesday night at Comcast Arena in Everett. It was the family's first public statement since the trooper died in an on-duty collision Friday night in Skagit County.
An emergency room doctor in Washington, D.C., O'Connell wore a miniature State Patrol badge pinned to the lapel of his black suit. A black mourning band crossed the badge.
Thousands of people are expected to attend the trooper's funeral Thursday.
The O'Connell brothers grew up together in New York. As the youngest kid in the family, Sean O'Connell had the reputation for being sweet and funny. As an adult, he showed those same qualities.
Sean O'Connell joined the U.S. Navy and ended up out west. He'd ridden motorcycles since he was a teen.
The trooper's strength was that he could talk to anyone, his brother said. He used humor to defuse conflict. It was a skill he developed as a kid. He loved to make people laugh, to connect with them.
"As a family, we plan to honor Sean by trying to be more like him," O'Connell said.
Sean O'Connell loved being a father more than anything. He was devoted to his children, and proud of them, Fran O'Connell said.
"It was Sean I looked to for finding strength and being a good Dad," he said.
The trooper leaves behind a wife, a daughter and son. Both children are elementary school students.
The family is grateful for the overwhelming support from the community since the death, O'Connell said.
A future without Sean still is hard to comprehend, he said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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