Metro-East News

Chester community mourns loss of police officer, firefighter

About 150 people attended a vigil for Chester police officer James Brockmeyer held Saturday night at the Cohen Recreational Complex.
About 150 people attended a vigil for Chester police officer James Brockmeyer held Saturday night at the Cohen Recreational Complex.

The Chester community is mourning the loss of one of its own. Police officer and firefighter James Brockmeyer, 22, died Friday night during a police pursuit in rural Randolph County.

“It was the first time we had to take one of our own out,” said Chester Fire Chief Marty Bert.

Volunteer firefighters were called to the scene of the crash at 10 p.m. Friday to help extricate Brockmeyer out of his vehicle.

“We had to help get him out of the car,” Bert said. “We are a small town. We know eventually we are going to know someone involved in a crash.”

Bert has known Brockmeyer the last seven or eight years since he was a 16-year-old participant in the fire department’s explorer program. When Brockmeyer turned 19, he became an official volunteer firefighter, Bert said.

About 150 people attended a vigil for Brockmeyer held Saturday night at the Cohen Recreational Complex.

Brockmeyer’s death has hit the department of 25 volunteers hard, according to Bert. “He was really close to a lot of them,” Bert said. “The whole department is taking it hard. We are doing the best we can.”

When Brockmeyer wasn’t fighting fires or serving as a police officer, he enjoyed hunting and fishing.

Brockmeyer also previously worked for the City of Chester’s Natural Gas Department. Bert said Brockmeyer was extremely dedicated to his community and volunteered countless hours.

“He put a lot of service into the city of Chester,” Bert said.

All the training hours to become a volunteer firefighter are unpaid. The only time they get paid is when they respond to a call, Bert said.

Bert knew who to ask if he needed something done — Brockmeyer. “Whatever I needed done, there was no questions asked,” Bert said. “He never complained.”

Despite the seriousness of his profession, Bert said Brockmeyer could take a joke. However, Bert said he would eventually “get you back.”

Brockmeyer “fit in really well,” Bert said. “He was really excited about becoming a police officer.”

Funeral arrangements are pending at Welge-Pechacek & Pechacek-McClure Funeral Homes in Chester.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

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