NORTON SHORES, Mich. — Police, friends and family have said their final goodbyes to a Norton Shores officer killed in a crash last week.
Officer Jonathan Ginka, 34, died Wednesday when his cruiser drove off the road near Henry and Ross Road and hit a tree. Ginka, who began his career as a firefighter, was a 10-year-veteran with the department.
The funeral mass was at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in North Muskegon. A procession with a police escort that stretched for miles to the Laketown Township Cemetery followed.
"I found him to be that big guy that just had a soft heart, that was just Jon Ginka," said Lt. Shane Brown with the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department.
"Patient, kind, knows what he’s doing, and is fair about application of law. That’s the kind of guy he was. That’s the kind of people in this field and Jon Ginka was that officer you wanted in the street," he said.
Ginka is admired by fellow law enforcement, and city officials to community members and strangers thank him for his dedication to public service.
"It’s a tough job they do and I think he made everyone in the department happier and laughed with him," said Gary Nelund, Norton Shores mayor. "He was a good breath of fresh air.”
"Thanks for your service, 10 years, died way too young, 34-years-old," he said, "I just want to thank him for dedicating his life to public safety."
Hundreds lined the streets of North Muskegon Tuesday during Ginka's funeral procession as law enforcement from across Michigan drove silently in his honor.
"[We are here] to show our respect for our fallen police officer," said Michael Wozny, standing on Ruddiman Drive with his wife Judy. "You just hate to see anything like this happen. It just takes your breath away."
As Ginka's end of watch call played from dispatch over the radio, heard by all at the Laketown Township Cemetery, he was thanked a final time. His dedication to his community, his wife and two children will never be forgotten.
"You leave behind a loving family and a grateful community," his end of watch call said. "You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. Officer Ginka, rest in peace sir, rest in peace."
Cards and letters of condolence may be sent in care of the Norton Shores Police Department at 4814 S. Henry St. in Norton Shores.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Norton Shores Crime Prevention Fund or the Wounded Warriors Project in Officer Ginka’s name.