‘Rest easy, sir’: 23-year-old Overland Park officer who died of COVID-19 laid to rest

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — An Overland Park Police officer is laid to rest. As hundreds of family, friends and even strangers honored 23-year-old Freddie Castro’s life.

The young officer died just over a week ago from COVID-19. He spent more than a month on a ventilator at North Kansas City Hospital.

Wednesday, the community celebrated his life with a traditional Catholic mass and graveside funeral. FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt was invited to his service by his family.

It was clear to see in a short amount of time Castro made a big impact doing what he loved.

How can you say goodbye? For those who love Castro it seems impossible.

“To love is to give of ourselves for others, and in so many ways he gave himself to service and love to our community,” Father Luis Felipe Suarez said during his service.

The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Leawood was filled with love and loss for a young man who was living his dream, caring for the community, and loving with his whole heart.

Larry Cooper is Castro’s best friend, and also one of his pallbearers.

“They lost a future chief of police, a sheriff. They lost a dedicated public servant who loved this community,” Cooper said.

At his graveside, family, friends, and brotherhood faced with a reality they could not imagine.

“He had the biggest heart of a guy that I knew,” one of Castro’s childhood friends said. “It’s been an honor to call you my friend, but it’s been more of an honor to call you my brother.”

After 37 days in the hospital, most of them on a ventilator, Castro lost his life from COVID-19.

“He was humble. He was respectful. He was compassionate. The things you can’t teach somebody. You don’t learn that in school. You don’t learn that in the police academy. That sort of thing comes right from the heart,” Overland Park Police Chief, Frank Donchez, said.

Donchez said Castro would always give a helping hand to anyone in need. Now, he reaches out his hand to present a flag to his mother to honor Castro’s service.

John Fierro is Castro’s uncle and godfather. He visited Castro in the hospital, and was there the day he died. He said Castro gave everyone a gift when he smiled.

“Honored to have him, to be related to him, and to know he’s touched so many lives and people are still remembering him, and we’ll remember him. We’ll pass forward a smile in tribute to Officer Freddie Joe Castro,” Fierro said.

Freddie was not vaccinated when he died, but planned to before he got sick. Those that love him say it’s everyone’s choice, but to lose Freddie is a wound that can never heal.

“Take it serious. Vaccination would be your choice, but take it serious, because it took my best friend,” Cooper said.

Castro dreamed of being a police officer since he was a child. He achieved his dream and lived it until the day he died.

“This is the last call for Officer Freddie Castro, badge 1160. End of Watch, Tuesday, August 31, 2021,” could be heard over the radio. “Officer Castro, you were doing what you loved most and for that we will be forever grateful. Gone but never forgotten. Rest easy, sir. We have the watch from here. The air is clear.”

Castro’s family asks in lieu of flowers to donate to the Overland Park Police Officer’s Foundation. If you would like to make a donation toward the fund you can do so here.

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