LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kenneth Velez was three days from retirement when he was struck by a car while working outside of his cruiser on Interstate 90 on Thursday.
Velez was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center. He was 48 years old and is survived by his three children.
One of his sons is on the Amherst High School football team. They are playing Berea MidPark Friday night and students from both schools plan to wear blue in honor of Velez and his family.
His son posted an emotional tweet Thursday afternoon.
His other son is an air traffic controller in the Air Force, stationed in Korea. He is on his way home.
Velez spent 27 years keeping Ohio highways safe.
Ohio Going Blue Facebook page posted: "Trooper Velez, as you now patrol the streets of Heaven, may you continue your vigilant watch over your brothers and sisters in blue. We thank you for your service and we promise to NEVER forget you!"
Velez's death hit his fellow troopers hard. "He's been a family friend. He's the godfather to my son." Retired Trooper A.J. Torres worked with Velez for 15 years. Torres said his friend will be missed.
"Awesome guy, couldn't ask for a better guy. Matter of fact he was set to retire in three days."
Velez, is the first trooper to be killed in the line of duty in Cuyahoga County.
Since the Ohio State Highway Patrol was founded in 1933, there have been 39 troopers killed in the line of duty, as well as five support personnel.
The last trooper killed while on duty was in November 2001 in Franklin County.
"This is a tragedy for the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety," said Colonel Paul Pride, Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent. "Our prayers go out to the Velez family during this difficult time."
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