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By David Owens The Hartford Courant

HARTFORD, Conn. — Hundreds of police from across Connecticut and the nation gathered at Pratt & Whitney Stadium Friday to honor Trooper Kevin Miller, a 19-year state police veteran who was killed in an on-duty crash a week ago.

“He was a marine, a trooper, a friend, but most importantly, he was an amazing father, a father who loved to share stories about his children Ryan and Sarah,” Trooper David Piela said in eulogizing his colleague. “Everything he did every day was for his children.”

Miller, 49, was killed March 29 when his patrol car crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer on I-84 in Tolland. The accident remains under investigation. Miller was remembered Friday as a solid state trooper and a good man. He would have been eligible to retire in five months.

He is survived by his children, 10-year-old Sarah and 13-year-old son Ryan..

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal were among those who attended Miller’s funeral. .

A Mass of Christian Burial took place inside a large room inside the stadium with Miller’s family and closest colleagues in attendance. Outside, as snow fell, hundreds of police officers watched the service projected onto a screen on the stadium’s scoreboard.

Col. George F. Battle, the commander of the state police, described Miller as a man with a tremendous work ethic and concern for others. If you were in distress, Miller is who you wanted to come to your assistance, he said.

“He was a true guardian,” Battle said. “Kevin was taken from us all too soon. But it is important to remember his selfless dedication … for which we will be forever grateful.”

Piela described his friend of 17 years as a man with a heart as big as his smile.

“Kevin was an extremely generous person,” Piela said. “He always wanted to know how you were doing, regardless of troubles in his own life.” The two worked together and fished together at hot spots throughout eastern Connecticut. As his children got older, they joined in on the fishing trips.

And Piela had a message for Miller’s children. “Sarah, Ryan, the two of you have brought such joy into your father’s heart,” he said.

“We have your patrol from here, brother,” Piela said. “Rest easy brother, you are now in the hands of the Lord.”

TFC Kevin Miller laid to rest during funeral services. Photos of him with his children shown during broadcast of service. @CT_STATE_POLICE @WTNH pic.twitter.com/n3dADUT5fi

— Brian Spyros (@BrianSpyros) April 6, 2018

Family friend Jason Bishop said Miller was a constant presence at his children’s softball and baseball games. “Kevin loved watching Ryan and Sarah play ball,” he said. “I would see him constantly leaning on the end of the fence with his arms crossed waiting for the next play to happen.”

Miller would ask for tips so that he could help his daughter be a better player, Bishop said.

“Ryan and Sarah, you must know your dad loved you very much,” he said. “I could see it in his face and I’m sure you could too.”

Bishop said that when he had health issues arise, Miller volunteered to drive him to New Haven for treatment. “That’s the kind of guy Kevin was,” he said.

The funeral service ended with a soloist singing “How Great Thou Art,” and photos of Miller on duty, in the marines, at his wedding and with his children were projected onto the scoreboard screen.

“It’s a difficult time because a lot of the troopers are fathers, they are mothers” In wind driven snow…@CT_STATE_POLICE say final goodbyes to Trooper First Class Kevin Miller. @WTNH pic.twitter.com/yS2wuuh7DU

— Scott McDonnell (@ScottMcDonnell_) April 6, 2018

Focus then shifted outside, where police officers stood at attention as they waited for the casket to be transferred to the field. A bagpipe band played as a state police honor guard marched to stand by the casket, which was draped in an American flag. A firing squad fired a 21-gun salute, then a bugler sounded Taps. A marine honor guard then folded the flag that had been on the casket.

Hundreds of local police and state police from as far away as California, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin attended the funeral and calling hours Thursday night.

The state police union has started a fund in Miller’s family following his death.

Checks may be mailed to the Kevin Miller Memorial Fund, Connecticut State Police Union, 500 Main St,, East Hartford, CT, 06118-1034.

Miller, the union said, is the 22nd trooper to die in the line duty. The last trooper killed on the job was Trooper Kenneth Hall in 2010.

©2018 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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