PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Friends and family of a fallen Eastern Kentucky law enforcement officer gathered Thursday night to say goodbye.
Ernie Rhoten died Tuesday from injuries he suffered in a horse accident earlier this month. He was 42.
Rhoten was a Pike County sheriff's deputy and worked as a bailiff at the Pike County Judicial Center for about one year.
"He was very well liked by the people who work in the judicial center," deputy Martin Slone said. "He had a good personality and people appreciated him."
Rhoten's visitation Thursday in Pikeville was a time for folks to honor his service to the community.
"Everyone that wants to be a police officer has to have something about them that want to make them be that," Pike County chief sheriff's deputy Melvin Sayers said. "And Ernie had that."
"(He had) a smile on his face the whole time. I never saw him frown or gripe. He was just well-liked by everybody."
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police paid tribute to Rhoten in a special service at the visitation.
"I pray now that he's resting in peace and that his memory will remain with those who knew him well," Slone said. "And that it will be a blessing to them."
Another viewing for Slone will be held Friday from six to nine p.m. at Frost Funeral Home in Abingdon, Va. His funeral is Saturday at two p.m. at the funeral home.
Since Rhoten was a big University of Tennessee football fan, he will be buried in an orange casket with the UT logo on it.
Original story, 7/29/14
Folks in Pike County are remembering a sheriff's deputy who died around 8:30 Tuesday morning. Ernie Rhoten, was injured in a horse accident on July third and never recovered.
He worked for about a year as a bailiff at the Pike County Judicial Center where his coworkers say he made a huge impact in his short time there.
Chief CCSO, Joseph Meade says, "Ernie was the light of this place, he was one of the best officers we had ... and it is just the terrible the accident that happened."
Meade and others at the courthouse say the judicial center will not be the same without Rhoten.
District Judge Darrell Mullins says, "You have your family at home and then you have your family that you work with. So for us here in District Court and in the courthouse it is like we've lost a member of our family."
Working as District Court Bailiff for about a year, coworkers say Rhoten quickly made an impact.
Meade says, "There's not a person here who couldn't tell you who Ernie Rhoten was...from strangers on the street, he made them smile, and he made all the workers smile."
Always delivering a contagious smile, his friends say he taught them to try to find the good in situations and always make time to smile.
Judge Mullins says, "One thing we learned about Ernie after he passed is that he was an organ donor and that tells you a lot about the character of the man."
They say he fought hard for the past few weeks but could just not recover.
"It is in God's hands and He made the decision that he needed Ernie more than we did," says Mullins.
His friends all say they know he is still smiling, as he now watches over them.
"He will always be our brother, his family will always be our family," says Meade.
Thursday (Pikeville, Kentucky): Viewing 6-9p.m. - Service at 7 at Lucas and Son Funeral Home
Friday (Abingdon, Virginia) : Viewing 6-9 at Frost Funeral Home
Saturday(Abingdon, Virginia) : Funeral at 2 at Frost Funeral Home, followed by a graveside service at Forrest Hill