OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One week ago, 23-year-old Overland Park Police Officer Freddie Castro lost his battle with COVID-19. He spent more than a month on a ventilator at North Kansas City Hospital fighting for his life.
On Tuesday, family, friends and his law enforcement family came to pay their respects. On Wednesday he will be laid to rest.
Everyone who knew Officer Castro said all the same things. He loved people, he loved being a police officer and he was always smiling. His girlfriend, Officer Maddison Madden said that’s what she will miss about him the most.
Losing your partner isn’t something a new police officer should have to deal with, but Madden lost her partner in life.
“Everything just clicked. We were the same person. He was just the best guy ever, and we had a really strong connection,” Madden said.
Castro was her partner in love and life. Madden is an officer with the Lee’s Summit Police Department, and says since they met Castro was always there for her.
“I was going through the police academy when we started dating, so just going out of his way to help me through all of that,” Madden said.
She said they both had COVID-19 at the same time. However, she recovered, but he couldn’t. In July, after fighting the virus for a week at home Castro decided to go to the hospital. Madden says every day she could she would come and sit with him and hold his hand.
“I would pray a lot, hold his hand. I would talk to him. I didn’t know if he could hear me or not, but I still talked to him,” Madden said.
Larry Cooper was Castro’s best friend, roommate, and fellow officer. He drove him to the hospital when he couldn’t fight any longer.
“It was painful to see him go through that. Freddie was a strong fighter and you could see every day he was trying to overcome this. Every day 27/7 Freddie was fighting until it was time,” Cooper.
They’ve gone through life together, and now Cooper will have to go it alone.
“It’s been hard going home every night walking past his door. It’s hard. It doesn’t feel real,” Cooper said.
“There was a couple days where he squeezed my hand. Those were great days, but it was really upsetting knowing I could do nothing,” Madden said.
Castro’s family says he wasn’t vaccinated, and hope his legacy reminds others the virus can take the ones you love, in Freddie’s case, far too early.
“It’s serious. It’s very serious. It took my 23-year-old best friend. Freddie and I are one day apart in age. We celebrated our birthdays together,” Cooper said.
For Officer Madden, it took possibly a lifetime of laughter, care, and love with her best friend.
“It was really upsetting just knowing that he would do anything for me, I would do anything for him, and it was hard to know there was nothing more I could do but be by his side and hold his hand.
The best person in the world,” Madden said.
Overland Park Police Chief, Frank Donchez met Castro when he was a teenager and hired him as soon as he could. He says Castro will be an example for officers for years to come.
“The positive attitude. That’s what we want. Unfortunately, in this job some people get jaded. Some people lose that positive attitude. Always remain positive. Always remain smiling. That’s the best way to honor Freddie. Keep that positive attitude and always keep smiling. A smile can turn someone’s day around and every time you saw Freddie he had a smile on his face,” Donchez said.
He said the most important lesson from Freddie’s life is that even though it was short — it had meaning.
Castro’s funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish in Leawood. There will also be a procession through Overland Park to Castro’s final resting place.