On the day before his public memorial service, the family of Trooper Sean O'Connell speaks out for the first time.
His brother, Fran O'Connell shared stories about the man his entire family knew and loved. He says Sean was so much more than a state trooper: he was a family man, a role model, and he was always good for a laugh.
"We the family of Sean O'Connell wish to thank the community for the overwhelming show of support we have seen since his passing," said Fran O'Connell.
O'Connell says his brother loved riding his motorcycle, and still couldn't believe he got to do it for a living.
It was last Friday when the 38-year-old trooper was on duty on a rural road in Conway that is being used as a detour route due to the Skagit River Bridge Collapse.
O'Connell's motorcycle was hit by a box truck on Fir Island Road. He died later that evening at Skagit Valley Hospital.
"A future without Sean is foreign to us and will be difficult," said his brother, who is a doctor in Washington, D.C.
He says the family is choosing to focus on the good times and happy memories that Sean brought to their lives.
"He was very personable, very engaging, very compassionate, loved to talk to people," said Fran O'Connell.
He recalled how Sean would often make friends with the drivers he pulled over, and leave them smiling, even after he wrote them a ticket.
The family says the public can honor Sean's memory by donating to either the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or the Washington State Patrol Memorial Foundation.
Meanwhile, Sean's loved ones will honor him by trying to be more like him
"We will answer a calling, love our friends and family, and find humor in the every day events of life," he said.
A huge crowd is expected at Thursday's memorial service, to be held at Everett's Comcast Arena at 1 p.m.
Prior to the service, a procession will honor the trooper. It starts at 11 a.m. at the Smokey Point rest area.