A local funeral home is organizing a free public funeral for the pedestrian killed in a collision along with a Kansas City Police Department officer and a police dog.
The staff of Newcomer’s White Chapel Funeral Home has arranged for the service for Jesse Eckes to take place at 10:00 am March 3 at Hope Faith Ministries at 705 Virginia Ave. in Kansas City.
Eckes had experienced homelessness for several years, receiving assistance from her friends at Hope Faith. He had finally found a place of his own just a few weeks before his death.
On February 15, Jerron Lightfoot of Tonganoxie, 18, ran through a red light and struck a KCPD patrol car, which then struck Eckes, who was sitting in the intersection.
Lightfoot has since been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree.
Eckes, 52, has been described by Doug Langner, executive director of Hope Faith, as “the eyes and ears” of their operation, helping find others in need of help and taking them in.
“Essentially, we lost another person who was just trying to do his best to move people forward while trying to do the same with his own life,” Langner said in a previous interview with The Star.
Samantha Price, an apprentice funeral director at Newcomer’s White, said the funeral home has a program that helps pay for the services of first responders. After assisting with the services of agent James Muhlbauer, she said they wanted to make sure Eckes was honored as well.
“We wanted to make sure Jesse and his family were taken care of in some way,” she said.
Price has been in close contact with Eckes’ family, including his niece Britannie Eckes, who were shocked and devastated to learn of her uncle’s death.
“We are all heartbroken,” she said. “He definitely didn’t deserve it. She was doing fine.
Price said the service will be public and everyone is welcome to attend. Eckes’ family is asking attendees to donate to Hope Faith Ministries in her honor.
“He was such a big part of that organization,” she said. “They’ve helped so many people all year.”