LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County deputy who died after a battle with COVID-19 was remembered as a happy-go-lucky, dedicated law enforcement officer at his memorial service Monday at Victory Church.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, 32-year-old Christopher Broadhead contracted COVID-19 while on duty. He died Aug. 23 after spending weeks in the hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Elisa, who he met at the sheriff’s office, as well as three step-children and two young daughters, aged 1 and 2.
He is the first person to die from COVID-19 at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.
Broadhead served for nearly 10 years with the sheriff’s office.
“He was all-in on being a cop,” Sheriff Judd said during the service.
His deputies described him as the go-to deputy, a leader within the agency.
“Broadhead had a broad smile, an even broader ability to make his colleagues and family laugh,” Sheriff Judd said.
The sheriff said Deputy Broadhead would often bring meals and snacks to deputies while they were at late-night scenes, and loved buying new police gadgets.
“Chris [had a] happy-go-lucky smile on his face everyday. He made everyone around him happier,” Lt. Tracy Smith said during the memorial service Monday.
The family is not disclosing publicly whether Broadhead was vaccinated but his death has served as an eyeopener for others.
“I can tell you, I know a dozen or so people who have went out and got the vaccine because of Chris,” Lt. Smith said.
“I think if Chris were here with us today he’d look around the room and say ‘get the vaccine!’” Sheriff Judd added.
At the family’s request, COVID-19 vaccines were offered at the church following the services.
Seven people were vaccinated there, according to the Fla. Dept. of Health in Polk County.
To the people who knew him best, Broadhead also leaves a legacy of love.
Broadhead was known for telling the people in his life, “I love you.”
“As we search for meaning during this tragedy, I challenge everyone to carry out this part of Chris’ legacy. When you’re hanging up the phone, ending a conversation or departing from somewhere, tell your loved ones that you love them. It’s simple but special,” said Jacob Wren, Broadhead’s lifelong best friend.