Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Hernando, people line road for Deputy Mecklenburg's funeral procession

SPRING HILL — Paul Warren stood in the rain next to two fire trucks hoisting an American flag high above the intersection of Spring Hill Drive and Barclay Avenue.

"Just paying my respects to a hero," he said, needing no other reason to brave the wind and rain on a melancholy Friday.

He and dozens of others waited, soaked and hushed, for the funeral procession for Deputy John Mecklenburg to arrive.

The crowds braved the inclement weather to line the streets between St. Frances Cabrini Church on Mariner Boulevard and Florida Hills Memorial Park to bid farewell to the deputy who died Sunday when his car hit a tree during a high-speed chase.

James Bransfield, standing in soaked jean shorts and a red polo, held an American flag and smoked Marlboro cigarettes to stay warm. Having just moved to Spring Hill from Maine a week ago, he read about the deputy's death in Monday's newspaper.

The Army veteran and former firefighter had heard Mecklenburg was a good man, and he wanted to show his support.

"I'm sure," Bransfield said, "he would have done the same for me."

At the cemetery, bagpipe players practiced their notes as deputies who had arrived in advance of the procession stood about with an air of somber anticipation. A riderless horse waited calmly for its deployment.

A gaggle of Hernando County Explorers helped park cars, grabbing hats to shield themselves from the rain. Deputy Jason Deso, their adviser, crossed his arms as he supervised the young men and women.

Raindrops clung to his eyebrows like the pall of the day's occasion as he glanced at the burial site. He noted the number of funerals recently for fallen officers in the Tampa Bay area.

"We've had too many of these recently," he said.

Nearby, the sodden American flag flapped wetly in the wind. Shortly before the procession reached the intersection, a wind gust snagged the flag on a ladder.

A firefighter clambered up the ladder to untangle it, and the crowd responded with a hearty cheer.

Staff photojournalist Will Vragovic contributed to this report. Melvin Backman can be reached at or (352) 754-6114.

In Hernando, people line road for Deputy Mecklenburg's funeral procession 07/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2011 8:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: jobs, desegregation, lawsuits and more


    RESOURCES: A job created last year to coach and mentor first-year teachers in struggling schools, which was funded by the Pinellas County school district and the teacher's union, is being …

    Third-grade teacher Rachel Lachiusa, 23, left, gets help from Kali Davis, whose job it was to mentor first-year teachers in St. Petersburg.
  2. Jack Latvala can win


    From today's column:

  3. Forecast: Isolated showers to start along the coast before pushing inland


    Tampa Bay residents can expect isolated showers mainly along the coast this morning before they push inland this afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  4. Rick Scott for President?


    Reubin Askew tried. So did Bob Graham. And Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. When you've shown an ability to win statewide elections in America's biggest swing state, you're almost automatically a credible contender for president.

    Rick Scott
  5. The next step in a sex abuse survivor's recovery: Erasing her tattoo


    TAMPA — Even after 20 years, Sufiyah can't escape the memories of being sexually exploited by gang members as a teenager.

    The tattoo makes it impossible.

    Sufiyah, an aAbuse survivor, prepares to have a tattoo removed  at Tampa Tattoo Vanish  on Thursday. During her teen years, she was sexually exploited by a gang. The tattoo is a mark of her exploiters. 

Tampa Tattoo Vanish is a new tattoo removal business run by Brian Morrison, where survivors of human trafficking get free tattoo removal.  [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times