Celebration of life service planned for pedestrian killed in crash that also killed officer, K-9

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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GLADSTONE, Mo. (KCTV) - The same funeral home that provided funeral services for fallen Officer James Muhlbauer and his K-9 Champ will be providing final arrangements for the pedestrian who was also killed in the same deadly crash.

Funeral directors at Newcomer’s White Chapel Funeral Home & White Chapel Cemetery said that, when they heard about the tragic crash, they wanted to help loved ones say goodbye with honor and dignity. They are providing services for Jesse Eckes at no cost.

Prosecutors say two seconds prior to the deadly crash on Feb. 15, Jerron Allen Lightfoot was driving over 89 mph in a 35 mph zone when he ran a red light and crashed into Officer Muhlbauer’s patrol vehicle. The crash killed Muhlbauer, his K-9 Champ, and Eckes. Lightfoot has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

To recognize their selflessness and courage, the Dignity Memorial Public Servants Program covered the cost of funeral services for Officer Muhlbauer and his K-9 Champ

“It was rewarding to be called to do such an honorable thing and to know that the family and the city trusted us to take care of the services,” Funeral Director Apprentice Samantha Price said.

“We wanted to give Jesse Eckes the same dignity and compassion that we did for the officer,” Funeral Director Nicole Giarratana said. “Inside Jesse’s community, they loved him just as much and he deserves the same honor.”

Funeral directors at Newcomer’s White Chapel Funeral Home have been in contact with Eckes’ niece, who lives out-of-state. Eckes was a father, brother, son, and friend who moved around getting by on his wit. He was an active member of Hope and Faith Ministries.

“It is important that every single one of us is honored and treated with dignity,” Price said. “That’s what Nicole and I wanted to make sure happened for everyone involved.”

The public is invited to a celebration of life service for Eckes at 10 a.m. on March 3 at Hope Faith Ministries. It is located at 705 Virginia Ave in Kansas City, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Hope Faith Ministries in Jesse’s honor.