‘He was a brother’ — Fallen state police trooper mourned after motorcycle crash

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Michigan State Police are mourning one of their own after he passed away at the hospital Wednesday afternoon following a motorcycle crash in Plainfield Township.

Details surrounding what happened are still under investigation, but police say Trooper Timothy O'Neill from the Michigan State Police Rockford Post was on duty at the time. The other driver involved in the crash wasn't hurt.

O'Neill's death is a huge loss for his community. He was engaged and set to be married on Oct. 7. Those who knew him say he was a compassionate guy who will be sorely missed.

A single blue and gold ribbon is set up at the intersection of Wolverine Boulevard and Belding Road, the location where O'Neill was involved in a crash Wednesday morning. The 28-year-old later died from his injuries.

Once news of the loss spread, several police units held a procession as Trooper O'Neill's body left the hospital.

"He was a brother," said Nathan Neuman.

Neuman knew Trooper O'Neill from the police academy when the two were in the 126th trooper recruit school in 2014.

"He was funny," said Neuman. "He definitely touched a lot of people in that recruit school and I'm sure he still did. He was a very kind and happy person."

Neuman, a state police trooper in Saginaw, heard the news from another trooper who was in their academy class.

"You don't really know when something can happen," said Neuman. "Being young and in this field, you could lose your life in the blink of an eye, so to speak. It's very humbling and it's tragic. I felt horrible."

"It's something that doesn't go away," said Mark Thomas.

Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, met Trooper O'Neill almost two years ago to the day when his girlfriend was the driver involved in a crash that resulted in a death in September 2015.

"My phone rang and I found out it was my girlfriend," said Thomas. "Turned out to be a fatal, Officer O'Neill was the lead investigator on it."

Thomas was Trooper O'Neill was there to help him and his girlfriend through court proceedings and the tough weeks to follow.

"He was very courteous and very caring," said Thomas. "Those are the types of individuals that stand out and he's one that stood out."

Stood out enough that he still carries Trooper O'Neill's business card in his wallet.

"It affects everybody," said Thomas. "We're all one family, we wear different badges, but we're all one family."

Both Thomas and Neuman say O'Neill's death is a huge loss and he's a man they'll always remember.

"He'll never be forgotten," said Neuman. "In this field, it's a closer bond. Even if you don't spend a lot of time with somebody, they're still your brother and your sister so it hits close to home when someone that close to you passes away like that. I just want to give my love and my prayers out to his family and his fiancee in this tough time and hope they're able to get through this tough situation."

The crash remains under investigation. Trooper O'Neill leaves behind his fiancee, mom, dad and two siblings.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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