BLADENBORO, NC (WWAY) -- At least 1,000 people turned out in Bladenboro this afternoon to honor a Bladen County Sheriff's deputy who died in the line of duty. Dep. Dewayne Hester died when he lost control of his car and hit a tree on the way to a call late Friday night.
This afternoon, people packed the Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Bladenboro for Hester's funeral. The crowd included law enforcement officers from across the state and South Carolina.
Inside the funeral, where cameras were not allowed, the church's Family Life Center was packed to the back. People stood, lining the back and side walls.
During the eulogy, Larry Hayes, Hester's friend and pastor, described the fallen deputy as "a man of great faith and integrity."
A childhood friend of Deputy Hester, Andrew Munn, said he's doing his best to cope with the loss.
"It's very hard. it was shocking to hear he had passed," Munn said.
The funeral service began with a video of pictures of Hester that told his life, from boyhood to adulthood.
The service closed with a video recording of Hester singing two songs. One of them was called "Going Home," which describes a life coming to an end but continuing in heaven.
After the funeral, a procession accompanied Hester's body to a burial in Oak Grove Church Cemetery in Bladen County. His body was carried along the last bit of the route on a horse-drawn caisson with a guard of North Carolina Highway Patrol Troopers.
Munn said Hester would encourage him to smile through the struggle. "He's in a better place now. He's above. We can look up there and see his pretty smile. He was always smiling," Munn said.
Hester, who was three months shy of his 40th birthday, is survived by his wife Tammie and two young daughters, Haley and Hannah.