‘We are battered and bruised’: N.C. trooper who died after month-long COVID-19 battle celebrated, laid to rest

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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VANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A community said its goodbye to a North Carolina state trooper on Saturday, less than a week after losing his life after a long battle with COVID-19.

Master Trooper James “Brent” Montgomery was laid to rest Saturday following a “Celebration of Life” ceremony at South Henderson Church of God in Henderson, N.C.

The service was livestreamed on the North Carolina Highway Patrol Facebook page.

“We are heartbroken. We are battered and bruised. We honor this beloved, fallen hero,” said North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander Glenn McNeill.

Montgomery served for Troop C in District 4 with the North Carolina Highway Patrol for 15 years. He patroled Vance, Warren and Franklin counties, according to his obituary. He is survived by a wife, a son and two daughters.

Officials say Trooper James Montgomery, better known as “Brent,” of Troop C District 4 - Vance...
Officials say Trooper James Montgomery, better known as “Brent,” of Troop C District 4 - Vance County has been in intensive care for the last 12 days at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill battling the virus.(North Carolina State Highway Patrol)

The trooped died on Monday, March 15 after a month-long bout with COVID-19.

“Day-after-day, we were all privileged to watch Brent fight for his life, and the courage needed to fight fear and doubt,” McNeill said. “Collectively, all of our hearts hurt. But on this day, we make no mistake about celebrating Brent’s life, because ultimately, Brent conquered this life.”

Troopers are honoring Montgomery by wearing mourning bands in honor of him until 11:59 pm on the day of his funeral.

“As a Patrol family, our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy and a sense of loss as we have lost a friend, brother and a dedicated public servant with the passing of Master Trooper James “Brent” Montgomery, C-440,” said CMcNeill. “Brent was a true warrior who fought a courageous battle against COVID-19 with the love and support of his wife Heather, and their three children; Jabe, Collin and Emma.”

According to the Raleigh News and Observer, Montgomery had been hospitalized since early February and was being treated for pneumonia related to the virus. According to media reports, he tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 1 and was hospitalized on Feb. 9.

He was put on a biPAP machine, which uses two levels of pressure to assist the lungs with breathing, on Feb. 16 — two days after his 23rd wedding anniversary, according to the News and Observer. He was put on a ventilator on Feb. 17.

Montgomery served and lived in Vance County in North Carolina.

“He had a kind heart and he had an amazing smile that he wanted to share with the world. As you know, state troopers are not famous for smiling. The joy Brent had, it was too great for Brent to hide it from the world,” McNeill said.

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