Kern deputy honored and laid to rest

Kern deputy honored and laid to rest
Hundreds of officers from across California joined to pay final respects to Kern County Sheriff Deputy Joe Hudnall who died in the line of duty. Funeral services on Monday were packed with loved ones and officers.

Deputy Hudnall died last Tuesday when his patrol car was hit head-on in the Kern River Canyon as he brought a suspect in to the jail in Bakersfield. Hudnall was a nine-year veteran with the Sheriff's Department.

At Valley Baptist Church, hundreds of officers filed into the sanctuary, led by Sheriff Mack Wimbish and Sheriff-elect Donny Youngblood.

Sheriff Wimbish praised the hard work and devotion of Deputy Hudnall, adding that he knew Hudnall and his wife had talked over the dangers of the job.

Widow Carrie Hudnall also spoke at the service, thanking the community and especially the law enforcement "family" for their outpouring of support.

Officers who worked closely with Hudnall spoke, too. They talked about his sense of humor and how he loved to tell long, involved stories.

Deputy Rob Cruz held back tears as he said he would take aspects of Joe Hudnall with him, and "..try to live as he would want me to."

Hudnall's oldest son, Josh also talked about the impact his father had on many lives -- and about his dad's dedication to law enforcement.

The younger Hudnall said to get into law enforcement, his father struggled for a year working as a Kern County Sheriff's reserve deputy while still working full-time as a truck driver, and raising his son.

Josh Hudnall says he father's life is an example of hard work, "My dad said you can get anything you want -- if you work for it."

Deputy Hudnall leaves behind three sons and a daughter. Songs were played at the memorial service in honor of Hudnall's children and his wife.

Pastor Phil Neighbors told the mourners the life and death of Joe Hudnall are an example of service. "His life can remind us of that sacrifice. And I don't think we'll ever forget him as we travel up the Kern River Canyon, we'll always think of what happened on that day."

Former Sheriff's officer and Kern County Supervisor Steve Perez said he was at the memorial service to honor Hudnall, every officer who serves, and every family who's lost a loved one in the line of duty.

"I know how vital it is for every family that has a member in the Department, and for those that may have lost one -- to give support, to show that he'll be missed and that life is precious and it's short."