GARY | The radiance of Lake County correctional Officer Britney Meux's smile was captured in dozens of photographs playing in a photo slide show at her wake Sunday.
Her smile softened the sadness for the hundreds of mourners who gathered at Ridgelawn Funeral Home, 4201 W. Ridge Road.
A photograph of her sporting her baby bump, another of her hugging her four sisters and one of her holding her baby daughter showed the brightness of the life she lived. Some people found themselves smiling along with the photographs as they watched.
"She was the type of cousin that lit up the room," cousin Vanessa Moreno said.
Moreno, 53, of Cincinnati, said the news of Meux's death shook their large family to the core.
Meux, 25, of Crown Point, died and three of her colleagues were injured when an SUV ran them over as they jogged Tuesday night along 93rd Avenue near Main Street in Crown Point.
Family members from California, Texas and other parts of the country gathered to say goodbye to the fallen officer and mother to 5-month-old Savannah.
"Her life was just starting out," Moreno said.
Members of her police "family" also came from as far as New York to pay their respects.
Hammond police Officer Sean Garrison had never met Meux.
But Garrison, 40, of Hammond, said he didn't need to know her to be hurt by her tragic death.
"I feel like (officers) are all connected as brothers and sisters," he said.
A somber crowd of officers dressed in county brown uniforms and black suits gathered outside the funeral home.
David Murchek, one of the co-workers injured in the crash, shook hands with officers and chatted with those who approached him as he sat in a wheelchair.
The sadness of losing "a sister" was apparent on his face, and the pain of the crash was evident on his body: One leg was wrapped in a hard cast, while his other foot was confined to a walking boot.
The sadness and grief also were apparent in Sheriff John Buncich's demeanor as he met visitors at the door outside of Meux's viewing room.
"It's been a long week," he said. "We did what we had to do with the investigation and now we have to do our duty in giving her as much honor as we can."
Jason Cozmanoff, 42, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, faces four felony hit-and-run charges after turning himself in a day after the crash. Police say data from the airbag module in his 2002 GMC Yukon show he was going more than 60 mph when he hit the officers.
Eboney Lacey used to work with Meux at the jail. She said working with Meux gave her the opportunity to know a "beautiful" and "determined" woman.
"She wasn't just a great officer," Lacey said. "She was a wonderful officer and a great person to be around."
Her funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church, 473 Sibley St., Hammond.
A funeral procession will be routed past the Lake County Jail and the nearby accident scene on its way to Ridgelawn for interment.