Fallen Greene County deputy's keepsake car restored by area businesses for free
It was a tragic evening on September 7, 2018 when 35 year-old Greene Co. sheriff's deputy Aaron Roberts drowned after his patrol car was swept off a road by flash-flood waters near Fair Grove.
Roberts' funeral drew an outpouring of support from the community and the memorial flowers and candles placed at his patrol car in front of the sheriff's office was a solemn reminder of how much people cared.
"These people risk their lives for us every day," said Jeremy Miles when he was watching the funeral procession pass by. "As a community it's our job to be there for them in their time of need."
On Tuesday at Rick's Automotive that community support was on-display again for a car of another kind as Sheriff Jim Arnott, surrounded by representatives from 13 area businesses, had a surprise for Aaron's widow Kim.
"Soon after Aaron passed away as we were helping her clean out her garage a little bit we noticed this Mitsubishi Eclipse in the garage," Arnott told the crowd. "It was covered with stuff. I said,'Wouldn't it be cool if we put this back together for you'".
Especially since it was the car that started their relationship.
"I actually asked him out on our first date because I liked the car and wanted to show up to a Christmas party in it," Kim recalled. "Of course I knew that night that I was going to marry him."
So after months of free work provided by the 13 businesses to restore the 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse, Kim got to see the new improved version of one of the happiest memories in her life.
"Seeing it for the first time was more emotional than I anticipated," Kim said. "I mean, this is Aaron's 'girlfriend' as he called it. It was his baby and his pride and joy. It helps me to know that we can carry a little bit of him moving forward. I know that he's smiling down on us today."
It was also an emotional moment for all those who had worked on the car as they got a hug from Kim for all their donated time.
"It was just an outpouring of everybody just wanting to help her out and do anything we could do so she could have something to remember him by, " said Travis Comfort from Rick's Automotive.
For the sheriff it was a labor of love for a fallen comrade.
"I think of Aaron every day," Arnott said. "I wear this bracelet (with Roberts name on it) in honor and remembrance of him that makes me think of him and the sacrifice that he gave for the citizens. Today was awesome. We're so proud of our community that gives back."
By the way, Kim is now a volunteer with the Greene County Sheriff Department's Citizens' Patrol because she wants to give back to the community that's helped her so much...and to be closer to her law enforcement family.