Troopers escort fallen colleague’s kids on first day

LAKE STEVENS — Five Washington State Patrol troopers followed on motorcycles as the big yellow bus chugged along Lake Stevens’ streets.

Sean O’Connell wasn’t there on Wednesday, the first day of school, to see his daughter begin kindergarten and his son start second grade. So his buddies did it for him.

O’Connell, 38, died May 31 in an on-duty motorcycle crash. He had been a trooper for 16 years. The day he died, he was working traffic control related to the Skagit River bridge collapse.

O’Connell adored his children. They were his joy. At the trooper’s memorial service in June, 2,200 people saw a slideshow showing O’Connell holding his children, smiling, making goofy faces — photo after photo, each full of a father’s love.

“It was Sean I looked to for finding strength and being a good dad,” his older brother Fran O’Connell told the crowd.

Knowing their friend wouldn’t have missed the first day of school, O’Connell’s fellow motorcycle troopers stepped in, riding behind the bus to school. They walked the kids to class. O’Connell’s wife snapped pictures, making new memories for a different life.

The troopers also stopped to take pictures with other children at the school.

“Sean was so much a part of that school,” Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said. “Sean would be so very, very proud.”

Lovick, a retired state trooper, was O’Connell’s sergeant for six years. He thought of the trooper as a son.

“That’s the State Patrol. That’s the family Sean had. That’s the family that continues on,” Lovick said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Lynnwood mayor challenged by councilman in general election

Three City Council members also are facing challengers on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Most Read