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Community mourns loss of Officer Christian

Procession of police, first responders pay tribute

CHESAPEAKE — Chesapeake officer Aaron Christian died Tuesday from injuries he received in a car crash last month.

Christian passed away at about 10:20 a.m., Proctorville Police Sgt. Randy Thompson, who was at the hospital the night before, said.

Christian 24, was traveling south on Ohio Route 7 on Sept. 18, when he lost control of his vehicle, drove off the right side of the road, striking a tree, guardrail and utility pole before overturning down an embankment.

Christian was thrown from the vehicle and rescued from a ditch. He was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where he remained in critical condition.

Shortly after Christian’s death police and emergency responders throughout the region began coming together and organizing a procession, which accompanied his body from the hospital to Phillips Funeral Home in Ironton Tuesday afternoon.

People were pulled over in both directions on U.S. 52 to watch as the group, which included personnel and vehicles from Patriot EMS, Huntington Police, the Coal Grove Fire Department, Burlington-Fayette Fire, Ironton Police, Upper Township Fire, Hanging Rock Police, the Lawrence County Sheriff, Coal Grove Police, South Point Police and others, passed.

Upon arrival in Ironton, the members of the group, dressed in formal uniform, saluted as Christian was taken into the funeral home.

Christian, an Ironton resident, previously served on Coal Grove’s police force. He joined Chesapeake’s department in fall 2015, sworn in by then-Mayor Dick Gilpin.

Prior to his career in law enforcement, he worked as a carrier for The Tribune.

During his time on Chesapeake’s police force, the department was left without a chief on two occasions and Christian carried out the chief’s duties and served as the village’s lone officer in the interim.

The Chesapeake community came together for Christian following the crash, with a candlelight prayer vigil ant Triangle Park on Sept. 19 drawing hundreds and several events hosted to raise funds for his medical expenses.

Chesapeake Fire Chief Ed Webb remembered Christian as “very likeable person.”

“Aaron was very understanding and very professional in his ways as a police officer,” he said. “He’d stop by the fire department all the time, and his main concern was to see everyone was OK.”

He said Christian got to know all of the fire department personnel well.

“Aaron was so much younger than my son,” Webb said. “We all treated him like our son.”

Webb said Christian’s death was “a loss for the community, a loss for the village and a loss for the people of Chesapeake.”

“We’re all going to be sad, but I don’t think Aaron would want us to be sad,” he said. “I know in my heart his religious beliefs and ways and I know he’s in a better place.”

Gilpin, who said Christian “fought a good fight” in the hospital, recalled his start with the village.

“He was a very young officer when he came to us from another department,” he said. “ He hadn’t been too far out of the academy when he joined.”

Like Webb, Gilpin spoke of Christian’s warm personality.

“He was a very genial, friendly fellow and took his job very seriously,” he said.  “He was always courteous and understanding when giving out tickets. I even saw him give people a hug after giving them a ticket.”

Gilpin described Christian as “a hugger,” and said he always received one after a conversation with Christian, something Webb also brought up.

“He was always giving a hug and a pat on the back,” Webb said.

Christian is survived by a father, Jack Christian; a stepmother, Carrie Christian; a mother, Leah Rae Osborne, siblings; and a daughter, Alaina.

Phillips Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Details on the service will be forthcoming.