SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — With flags in their hands and hands over their hearts, the community paid their final respects to Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Aldridge Sunday.
“I support the blue all the way,” retired firefighter Kimberly Walters said. “I had to be out here for it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“All of the public services are grieving right now,” Lt. Chris Spencer of the Westview Fairforest Fire Department added.
Beginning in downtown Spartanburg, people lined the streets as Deputy Aldridge’s casket was taken from the mortuary to The Church at the Mill for the 25-year-old’s celebration of life.
“I’m very, very glad to see a lot of the community out here supporting all of this,” Walters said. “I’m very proud to see it.”
Aldridge’s death hit close to home for many people.
“Our son works for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office,” William Tillinghast said.
“My son is family with the police officers,” Tammi Davis added. “He’s taking it hard.”
“It goes to show it can happen to any of us at any time,” Spencer said.
Spencer watched as the procession passed by the Westview Fairforest Fire Station.
“We [first responders] all work together,” Spencer explained. “We see each other on calls day in and day out. We all build that relationship together. It’s been tough.”
The parking lot of the church slowly emptied as the procession traveled to the cemetery. Those lining the street said their hearts are with Aldridge and his family.
“I pray the Lord wraps around them and sends them comfort,” Walters said.
“We love you,” Davis added. “We’re praying for you. Your boys have your back.”