DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - A community that has supported Deputy Chris Dewey since he was shot in the line of duty almost 18 months ago came out to show he will never be forgotten, even in his final days.
Dozens of supporters lined U.S. Highway 59 Thursday night as Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier drove Dewey's squad car from Detroit Lakes to Mahnomen.
The crowds released balloons following a candlelight vigil and a moment of silence for Dewey, who is on hospice care after doctors gave him just days to live.
Sheriff Krier said the outpouring of community support Thursday brought him back to the days following the February 2009 shooting, when Dewey suffered wounds to his head and stomach while responding to a report of a drunken driver in Mahnomen.
"It means an awful lot to have this happen," he said, adding that Chris would be honored but maybe a bit embarrassed by the "fuss" being made.
Charene Vogel of Audubon organized the vigil and said she was astounded by the turnout.
"I never expected it," she said.
Tina Voxland and her husband, Joel Voxland, a Moorhead police officer, drove to Detroit Lakes as a show of support to a fellow law enforcement officer and his family.
The community here has stayed involved in Dewey's medical ups and downs and shown support through benefits and vigils.
"I think it goes to show, in this part of the country, how close the community is to law enforcement," Joel Voxland said.
As the wife of a law enforcement officer, Tina Voxland said she can relate to the struggles of Dewey's wife, Emily.
"We all have to stick together," Tina Voxland said.
Chris Dewey's family was by his side Thursday night in his in-laws' home near Princeton but knew about the vigil, said Sarah Fulton, a family friend.
"I know Em is appreciative that everyone is so supportive," Fulton said by phone Thursday afternoon from Princeton. "She's glad everyone is remembering him after all this time."
Emily wrote on Chris Dewey's CaringBridge website earlier in the day, saying the family is "enjoying each and every moment that the Lord is granting us."
"We continue to be in a holding pattern of sorts, keeping Chris comfortable, praying with him," Emily wrote, adding that she has a peace about everything that is happening.
"However, it has been over a year since I've had a good 'ugly cry' and I know it's coming," she wrote.
Dewey's CaringBridge website: www.caringbridge.org/visit/chrisdewey