Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bowen’s fiancee: ‘There was nothing he loved more than getting out there to arrest people who broke the law’
Amid tears and laughter, funny stories about his “Mighty Mouse” quest to save the world and sad stories about his death two weeks before his wedding, friends, family and co-workers said goodbye to Virginia State Police Trooper Adam Bowen today.
More than 1,250 people crowded into the gym at Washington and Lee High School in Montross for the funeral. State troopers from Connecticut and Vermont, Maine and Maryland, Mississippi and Missouri paid their respects, as did at least one member of the California Highway Patrol.
There also were deputies, firefighters and rescue squad members representing areas from Northern Virginia to the Tidewater region.
“It’s that bond we have, you know, the bond that all law-enforcement has,” said Trooper T.A. Knight from Charlottesville. “Any time it happens to one of our own, whether it’s someone in our agency or another one, we’re gonna do everything we can for them and their family.”
During the service, several state police officials told stories about Bowen’s dedication and work ethic, hard-charging mentality and dry sense of humor.
His brother, Kevin, described him as a sharp dresser and “the driving force” in his life, even though Adam was five years younger than Kevin.
His pastor read a statement from his father, Glenn, saying that Bowen wouldn’t know what to make of all the attention and simply would say he was just doing his job.
But no one moved the crowd more—or was more a model of grace and composure—than his fiancee, Raechal Michie. She called the man, whom she would have married next Saturday, both strong and gentle, mischievous and dedicated, hard-working and honest.
“If he loved you, you knew it,” she said. “If he didn’t, you knew that, too.”
Bowen, 28, was killed Friday night in a horrific crash in King George County. He was heading west on State Route 3 when his cruiser hit another car, ricocheted into a traffic-light pole and was split in half.
Bowen was responding to a call, and before yesterday, state police hadn’t given any details about the urgency of the call.
During yesterday’s service, Capt. Steve Chumley said Bowen was on his way to help members of a drug task-force when he wrecked. Chumley, who’s also a chaplain, didn’t want any members of the group to blame themselves for the accident.
“Adam was doing what we all do,” Chumley said.
Bowen’s dedication to his job and his almost lifelong desire to be a Virginia state trooper was a recurring theme of the speakers. Chumley talked about how Bowen got the nickname “The Hammer” for the way he would come down on lawbreakers. He once gave a ticket to a boy walking along a highway, after he had warned him a week before that pedestrians weren’t allowed on the road.
He later discovered the boy was on his way to the library to return an overdue book.
“You can imagine how the other troopers razzed him for that,” said Col. Steven Flaherty, state police superintendent.
Bowen also arrested a drunk driver on a moped, his fiancee said. He loved to share stories about his various escapades, she said.
“There was nothing he loved more than getting out there to arrest people who broke the law,” she said.
She and Chumley warned jaywalkers, drunk drivers and other offenders in heaven to watch out, because Bowen would be on their case.
Flaherty told a story about Bowen he heard a few minutes before the service. Another trooper told him about a taped recording of one of Bowen’s calls.
On the tape is the sound of Bowen hitting the accelerator, then Bowen saying, in the voice of “Mighty Mouse,” the cartoon character: “Here I come to save the day.”
“That, ladies and gentlemen, sums up Adam,” Flaherty said.
State police worked with Welch Funeral Home to arrange the service. It was the biggest funeral the Warsaw home ever had, said Paul Welch, owner.
There were 1,250 signatures in the guest book and that number probably didn’t include the officers who worked the scene outside. About 20 deputies from Stafford and Spotsylvania and an officer from Fredericksburg provided traffic control at the school and at Rappahannock Baptist Church, where Bowen was buried.
Others maintained crowd control in the school. There were at least 45 police motorcycles in the funeral procession, as well as a state police bagpiper who led the family out of the school.
Sheriffs from area jurisdictions filled one row and included former King George County Sheriff Moose Dobson.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, who arrived in Montross by helicopter, sat in the front for the 90-minute service. He didn’t make any public comments, but got down on one knee and spoke privately to the family as he presented them the American flag.
The funeral was held in the gym, and bleachers on both sides were dotted with clusters of uniforms of dark blue and brown, pale green and olive.
But no color stood out more than the blue-gray uniform of the Virginia State Police.
At the beginning of the service, relatives of Bowen filed into the first few rows, sitting in chairs set up on the gym floor. Then, troopers, dispatchers and others associated with the Area 44 Office to which Bowen was assigned, filed into the gym.
They filled 10 rows.
“It’s a pretty amazing turnout for a kid from a small town,” said Terry Cosgrove, who owns a coffee shop in Montross.
Members of Bowen’s family repeatedly thanked their Northern Neck neighbors and the community of law-enforcement officials for their support.
Michie wanted them all to know how much the camaraderie meant.
“My blood, his blood, our friends and our family, in uniform and out, I don’t want you to forget that,” she said. “If Adam loved you, I love you.”