Hundreds of people paid their last respects to a Columbus police officer lost too soon. Corporal Keith Slay was laid to rest Monday. He was killed in a car accident last week while on duty.
Family and friends best remembered him as a man who was loyal and protective.
Law enforcement officers from across Georgia and Alabama attended the service. They came from Columbus, Phenix City, Alabama State Troopers Harris, Randolph and Dale counties. Each one gave a final salute to Cpl Slay.
Throughout his 53-years of life, he touched each of theirs in a special way. "he was over all the after-hours officers out at Whisperwood Apartments which is where I now live and so he got me the job out there and that's how I first met Keith," remembered Pine Mountain Officer Daren Whitaker.
Slay was a man who had a gift to protect and serve. His 32-year law enforcement career started when he was 20-years-old. He went from working with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office to being a homicide detective with Columbus Police and even worked briefly on a DEA task force.
When he died Cpl Slay was a special agent with the Metro Narcotics Task Force. The fatal car crash happened as he was responding to a call for back-up. A vehicle pulled out in front of him and he swerved to miss it.
Slay was also a family man. He was a baseball and karate coach, taught Sunday school to five and six year-olds and loved practical jokes, especially scaring people with a plastic snake.
His wife, Holly Slay, said he always wrote her long, mushy anniversary cards and shared a few during the service. She said she's not sorrowful and sad that her husband passed because he always talked about being with the Lord.
Longtime friend and colleague Columbus Police Captain J.D. Hawk led the processional. "It's a difficult situation. You're driving leading a friend and every one of these officers will have that feeling.... it's a rough day for us."
Hundreds of police cars took Cpl Slay his final resting place where Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren presented the colors to his wife and son. There was a 21 gun salute and four helicopters flew overhead to pay tribute to Slay, who helped start the department's aviation unit in 2003. Before his death, he logged 11,000 hours of flight time
Russell County Deputy Brad Evans was also injured in the accident with Cpl Slay. He is expected to make a full recovery.
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