TABOR, Iowa (KMTV) — The sudden, unexpected death of 37-year-old Fremont County Sheriff's Deputy Melvin Richardson, who was killed in a crash on Highway 275, is heartbreaking for those that knew him. Chloe Kirchert babysat for the children of Melvin and his wife Jennifer.
"I couldn't imagine what Jennifer and the girls are going through right now. It's just so awful to even think about," Kirchert said.
Jeff Van Houten owns Roots Floral & Designs in Tabor and also knew Melvin well.
"You never want anyone to experience that kind of loss or tragedy," Van Houten said.
This excruciating week is motivating Van Houten to find some "beauty in the pain" by creating floral arrangements for Melvin's visitation. The flowers will be placed around his casket.
"A lot of it, the stuff that's going out, is patriotic — red, white or blue. There's some more family pieces and stuff that I'm doing as well," Van Houten said.
He is also offering stuffed animals for Melvin's kids.
"Something for them to have instead of a plant or flower, something they can keep forever," Van Houten said.
His hope is that the flowers people order send a deeper message to the Richardsons.
"People really do care and are reaching out, trying to figure out something to do that's simple but meaningful," Van Houten said.
To help the family, Malvern Bank has an account called the "Jennifer Richardson Support Fund" and Hilltop Animal Hospital in Malvern is accepting gift card donations for the family.
"He was a staple in our community. Anyone in law enforcement is usually well-known around here," Van Houten said.
As Van Houten and Kirchert prepare to say goodbye to the fallen deputy, they carry this with them forever: love and caring for their community — the way Melvin did.
"Don't have any regrets, honestly, if you love someone, let them know. Keep who you love close and make sure they know you love them," Kirchert said.
Anyone wishing to pay respects is invited to line Knox Road, Bluff Road, E Street and Argyle Street as the funeral procession makes its way to the Hamburg cemetery. Flags, signs and other shows of support are welcome.