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‘One of the heroes in this city’: Community remembers fallen Lake City lieutenant and the lives he touched

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT
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LAKE CITY, S.C. (WMBF) – People in the Lake City community are coming to terms with the fact that they lost one of their heroes.

Lake City police Lt. John Stewart was killed in the line of duty on Friday after a police chase ended in a deadly crash on Matthews Road.

Now his legacy will carry on through the many lives he touched in Lake City.

RELATED COVERAGE | Law enforcement agencies team up, establish memorial fund for fallen Lake City lieutenant

“You don’t become a hero after you die. You become a hero from the life you lived and that’s who John Stewart was,” said pastor Paula Morris.

Morris, who also serves on the Florence School District 3 Board of Trustees, said Stewart always interacted with the youth.

“We even have pictures of him hugging children, the little ones. So he was just one of the heroes in this city,” Morris said.

One example of being a hero came when councilwoman Yamekia Robinson turned to Stewart for help when she heard about a teenager walking back and forth to work because he didn’t have any transportation.

“Officer Stewart would take him, pick him up from work and take him home because that’s the type of officer Lt. Stewart was,” Robinson said.

Stewart is also remembered as an officer who got to know those in the communities he patrolled, like Allison Cabrera.

Cabrera said that she got to know Stewart because he patrolled her Lake City neighborhood and they quickly developed a friendship.

She said he would stop by and check in on her family.

Cabrera said her eyes were filled with tears when she heard about Stewart’s death.

“When we heard what had happened, everyone at the house broke down because we didn’t believe it was true. He did so much for us and we cared about him,” Cabrera said.

But youth pastor Joshua Howard said even though Stewart’s life was cut short, he lived it to the fullest.

“We all have a dash in our lives. We all have a born date, and we all have a date of expiration. But it’s what we do with that dash that matters and officer Stewart, let’s just say the dash was completed,” Howard said.

A city-wide prayer gathering is being held for Stewart at 6 p.m. Thursday at the McNair Memorial Park in Lake City.

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