By Geena Martinez
RANKIN - In Rankin, it was a somber goodbye as hundreds came from near and far to pay their respects to a fallen deputy.
Deputy Mike Smith was killed in a tragic accident last week while responding to a call.
"It's gonna be real tough tomorrow," Deputy, Dusty Kilgore, said. "Mike was supposed to start back tomorrow and it's gonna be real tough."
Bagpipes played and tears fell during an emotional send off for a man everyone called a local hero.
"He always had a smile and he was just an awesome awesome person to get to know, very very humble," Rankin resident, Alma Martinez, said.
44-year-old Upton County Sheriff Deputy Mike Smith was laid to rest Tuesday afternoon in front of a crowd of hundreds.
Smith was killed early Friday morning on his way to a call.
He was hit head on by an 18-wheeler on Highway 349.
Officers and deputies came from Midland, Odessa, Alpine, Lubbock, even as far away as Austin and Corpus Christi to pay their respects to their fallen brother.
"It really emphasizes how strong law enforcement is here in West Texas and all over the state," Kilgore said. "It gives a sense of comfort for not only us, the department but for his family."
The tight-knit community watched Sheriff Dan Brown present a folded flag to Smith's family.
He leaves behind a wife, three sons and a daughter.
"I just want the family to know that the department will always be there for them, even after this tough time," Kilgore said.
Friends are remembering Smith and the mark he made during his two and a half years in Rankin.
"Right away you could just cling to him because he was such an awesome, awesome person," Martinez said. "It's a blessing for Mike, you know. I know he's up there and watching over us and he can see all of this."
"The greatest memory I'll always about Mike is when I worked with him. I always said when I have to arrest somebody you always stand beside me so that they may not be scared of me but they'll at least be scared of you," Kilgore said.
In his last radio call, badge number eight was officially retired. Gone but not forgotten.