ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A fallen Texas Tech University police officer was buried at sea Monday morning off the coast of St. Augustine.
Officer Floyd East Jr., 48, was shot and killed by a student last October. East had been working on campus for about five months and was conducting a welfare check that turned into a drug arrest when a 19-year-old suspect pulled a gun and shot him.
East wasn’t from Northeast Florida, but family said he loved the sea and was a certified SCUBA diver. They said he would spend any time he could on the water.
Months before he died, East talked about being buried at sea, so his family made that a reality with Eternal Reefs.
Officer Dee Brown with the St. Augustine Police Department said East's family was able to mix his ashes into what will become a permanent marine reef.
“His niece found seashells -- she put those into the reef, so it was beautiful to see his badge, his patch all into the reef, so years later when his wife goes out to dive at the site, it will be nice to be able to see those things and remember Floyd,” Brown said. “My heart goes out to him, because you never know. It could have been your last day, you know. We don’t know that we’re going to make it home. It’s just the risk that we take in this profession.”
Brown was among those with St. Augustine Police Department who took part in the ceremony, which included a boat procession of East's family members and officers from various law enforcement agencies. The Bridge of Lions lifted at 10:30 a.m. to allow more than a dozen boats through.
Officers from various local agencies lined the Bayfront to watch the procession, and visitors to the historic city, like Mitch Edge, also stopped to pay their respects.
“They’re very much under-appreciated for the sacrifice they make for what they do,” Edge said. “For what they get paid, it’s a lot. You can tell they do it because they love what they do, so I think it’s a pretty neat thing for them to share their respects in that way.”
What is an Eternal Reef?
His ashes will forever remain 8 miles off the coast of St. Augustine in a 3,800-pound reef ball. It’ll have a plaque with his name on it and over time, it will become a home to marine life.
- Cast concrete is used to create a new habitat for marine life,
- Cremated remains are combined into environmentally safe cement mixture to create an eternal reef
- The reef balls are only placed at sites designated for development as recreational reefs for fishing and diving -- all permitted through local, state and federal agencies
- The company says the reefs help preserve, protect and enhance the oceans’ health.
- There are currently more than 2,000 reef balls off the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia.
- The memorial reefs range from 800 pounds up to 4,000 pounds.
To learn more about Eternal Reefs, go to www.eternalreefs.com.
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