COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Covington police held a memorial service early Friday to honor the memory of an officer who died 15 years ago, after falling from the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.
Officer Michael Partin had been on the job just 15 months when he came to the aid of a Kenton County police officer, who was having trouble arresting a drunk driver who ran on foot onto the bridge.
After stopping his patrol car on the bridge, Partin leaped over the concrete divider between the road and the walkway, but apparently didn't see the 3 foot gap in between and fell into the river.
Dive teams and more than 100 volunteers from area police and fire departments searched the river for weeks looking for Partin's body.
During the search in January 1998, Sean Simonson with the Bright, IN volunteer fire department said, "We're running real close to the bank, checking everything out up and down the bank. The water, debris piles and stuff like that."
Mike Davis with the Dearborn County, IN Red Cross said, "We feel for the Covington Fire Department for the simple fact they need a closure up there, you know? They lost somebody and until this person is found they'll never be closed."
Col. Steve Schmidt with the Covington police department said, "I think what it points up is in this business there are no strangers. We're all part of a family."
It was five months before Partin's body was recovered. The fallen officer was given a funeral befitting a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
During the funeral held on May 22, 1998, Partin's brother-in-law Brian Charles said, "He found a second family in the police force, and this family has been there for us during this time of sorrow."
Adding to the family's grief is the fact that the man Partin was trying to catch, Shawnta Michael Robertson, was released from prison in 2002 after serving two years of a six-year sentence. Robertson was convicted of second degree manslaughter for Partin's death.
In July of 2000, Partin's widow Lisa Partin said, "He gets to go home. He gets to see his family again. Good for him. He's a lucky guy. We'll get to go out to Highland Cemetery and sit on a bench and look at Michael's grave and say we lost."
There is a wreath on the bridge marking the spot where officer Partin fell and a road behind the Covington police station has been named in his honor. In addition a plaque hangs inside the police station to honor him and other Covington lawmen who have died in the line of duty.