MORGANTOWN (KDKA) - West Virginia is mourning the loss of two law enforcement officers taken too soon. Morgantown police officer, Uniontown native, and Laurel Highlands graduate Zane Breakiron died in a crash this weekend, one day after a state police sergeant was shot and killed by a suspect in the southern part of the state.
Barry Frey of Smithfield, Pennsylvania, is still processing the loss of his close friend, Zane Breakiron.
"You can almost see him laughing, or you know, you can almost hear him on the phone," Frey said. "It's hard."
The 34-year-old was about to mark seven years with the Morgantown Police Department in West Virginia as a patrol officer first class and K9 handler.
However, police said sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning, Breakiron died in a crash while off-duty. Sources told KDKA it happened as he was traveling north on Route 43, somewhere between the Cheat Lake exit and the Pennsylvania border.
"I couldn't even believe it at first. I thought that maybe I would find out that it was just a mistake, that somebody made a mistake," Frey said.
The officer's father, Dr. Garret Breakiron, who's currently running for South Union Township commissioner in Pennsylvania and a former chairman of the Fayette County Reagan Republicans, released the following statement to KDKA:
"Zane was the type of son who made his mother and father proud. Everyone in our community loved and respected him. We know that Zane now has a place in heaven."
Frey said the Breakirons are very close.
"Zane had a tremendous relationship with both his mother and his father. He really looked up to his dad a lot," Frey said.
He believes it's the values they instilled in him that led him to join the force.
"I think they just had those values, that public service was important to them, and I think he was just naturally drawn to that," Frey said.
Barry said Breakiron was recently accepted to become a U.S. Marshal.
"I know his parents are very proud," Frey said. "It's unfortunate that he won't be able to do that now."
Outside of work, Breakiron loved to go hunting and boating, and no matter who he met, he treated them with respect. What set him apart was his loyalty.
"He was an exceptional person. He touched, he really touched lives," Frey said.
Now Frey said loved ones will try to keep his legacy alive, living life how Breakiron did.
"He was very humble, and I would just say that I think everybody should be more like that," Frey said.
The Monongalia County Sheriff's Office in West Virginia is investigating. KDKA reached out to them for more information, but they said they're not releasing any details at this time.
No word on when the procession will take place.
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