Johnstown Police Officer Yuri Thomas Honored by Hundreds of Uniformed Men and Women

September 25, 2018

Pall bearers carry the casket holding Yuri Thomas past American flags as police officers salute after his memorial service Monday at Rez.Church in Loveland. Thomas, a Johnstown police officer, drowned in Horsetooth Reservoir on Sept. 17.

When emergency personnel were asked to rise during Yuri Thomas’s funeral Monday morning, few remained seated in the pews of the Rez.Church.

Family and friends of the 32-year-old Johnstown police officer, who died Sept. 17, gathered at the Loveland church to honor his life. With them were police officers, deputies, firefighters and other emergency personnel from Fort Collins, Greeley, Denver and everywhere in between.

At the front of the sanctuary, near the stage, Yuri’s wife, Nola , looked on as the ceremony proceeded.

“Yuri chose joy,” said Pastor Mike Olson to the crowd of uniforms and badges.

He added that with Yuri, everything was about guiding people to the correct path and allowing them to realize that when it came to right and wrong, everyone has a choice. Olson said that’s why Thomas chose to don a policeman’s uniform. He joined the Johnstown Police Department in February.

And Thomas did choose joy — the evidence could be seen in a video of him dancing as he guided traffic through an intersection, and in countless other slide show photos of him smiling with family and friends, dogs, strangers and even while taking a selfie. The same slide show featured more footage of his dancing, causing many to giggle.

Another video played on the projections screens of Rez.Church showed Yuri speaking words of encouragement.

“For those out there who feel they don’t have any support,” he said to the crowd on a prerecorded video, “trust in the Lord with all your heart. ... He will definitely see you through.”

As members of the honor guard meticulously folded the American flag covering Thomas’s casket, emergency personnel, some grappling with their emotions, were asked to rise. The flag was then presented to Nola Thomas, who accepted it and held it to her chest.

Emergency personnel were then asked to exit to the parking lot and turn on all their vehicles emergency lights.

Nola and other close friends and family beside her on the pew then followed, all standing tall.

Those who followed saw a sea of red and blue lights in the Rez.Church parking lot with dozens of American flags posted at the entrance. Rows and rows of uniformed men and women looked on as Yuri Thomas’s body was placed inside a hearse; his family inside undercover cruisers close behind.

Hans Peter: 970-635-3630, hpeter@prairiemountainmedia.com

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