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Sgt. Smith, police honored on Dubuque wrecker

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) -- Jake Schroeder manages Tegeler Wrecker and Crane. When he heard about Sgt. Smith's death, he got to work on designing one of his wreckers to honor Sgt. Smith and to help the community grieve.

"And I woke up to the message that said, 'Did we lose a trooper last night?'" Schroeder said.

The news of Sgt. Smith's death spurred Schroeder to act on an idea he had been planning for more than two years -- to dedicate one of his wreckers to honor police officers.

"We've developed relationships with emergency personnel because we work so much," Schroeder said.

They work together at scenes of accidents where sometimes, lives are lost.

This time, it's an state police sergeant's life who was lost. A replica of Sgt. Smith's badge is painted on Schroeder's wrecker. The ribbon reads, "End of Watch, April 9, 2021."

For Schroeder, there's one word that sums up the service of the men and women in law enforcement -- courage. The definition of courage is prominently placed on the wrecker.

MORE: KWWL to air funeral for fallen Sergeant Jim Smith Friday morning

"I thought it fit the topic," Schroeder said, "I thought it fit the subject."

Schroeder hopes his wrecker brings comfort to a community grieving losing one of their won officers.

"I hope that, if family and friends see this going down the road, it just brings them a smile, or a tear or a thought of memories that they may have had," Schroeder said.

It's in those quiet moment of contemplation that Schroeder feels the weight of the issues of life -- and death. He recounts accidents where a family, a child or multiple children have died in a crash.

"And then after the scenes are cleared, that's when you start to think about things," Schroeder said.

He says he wants to do his part to support those who lay down their lives for the country.

"We'll be there if they ever needs us," Schroeder said.

For the first responders mourning Sgt. Smith, that means bringing the wrecker honoring his life and his sacrifice to line his funeral procession on Friday, as the community says goodbye to Sgt. Smith.

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Michele White

Cedar Rapids Multimedia Journalist

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