MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - As Midland continues to come to terms with the tragic death of Officer Heidelberg, the city of Midland has found a poignant way to give the community a place to pay their respects.
The patrol unit is number 5-8-1-6, it has been parked in front of the Midland police department for the last 2 days. Just last week it was a standard issue police cruiser.
But now, as a community mourns the loss of an officer, this cruiser mean so, so much more.
It’s VIN shows it’s a 2018 Ford Explorer, a standard issue police cruiser with limited monetary value, but for the last few days, and for the next few to come it now stands as a priceless memorial to a fallen officer whose service ended far, far too soon.
Stopping to pay her respect was Becky Malaise who shared her memories of the fallen officer. “Nathan or Hayden.. we called him Hayden in high school... graduated with my son in Midland High in 2009. I knew him then, I knew him after high school and he was one of the kindest, nicest men that you will ever know, ever, ever and I’m serious”.
Officer Heidelberg’s family came by to view all the gifts and flowers that have been left for Hayden. It was an emotional moment as they read cards that they picked up off the cruiser.
Those who serve and protect are, in fact, a tight and supportive family as a woman who once worked with Officer Heidelberg came by to lay flowers on the cruiser’s hood and pay her respects.
"I worked for the Midland County Sheriffs Office Crisis Intervention Unit and he had been on several calls with us, or with me, out helping with the public,” shared Gabriela Reyes.
Reyes also stated that her husband, is who also a local lawman, was affected as well.
“He was part of the procession, you know its something that they do, they all come together, help each other. You know it’s a family so it doesn’t matter where they work throughout the United States, if they can help, they are gonna help each other.”
It’s the cruiser that Officer Heidelberg had just been issued only a month ago, after retiring his previous patrol unit that he used to dutifully serve the community over the last 4 years... and the patrol unit that he would drive to what would be his final call.
It now rests as a memorial that a grieving community may now come to pay their last respects and say their final goodbyes.
Officer Heidelberg’s police cruiser will be on display in front of the Midland Police Department through the weekend until 8 a.m. Monday morning.