AUSTIN, Texas - Friends and family gathered in the Hill Country Bible Church Thursday for the funeral of senior APD Senior Sgt. Steve Urias.
"It’s a heavy day that we come on the conclusion of a heavy month, some would say a heavy year and a half," said an APD Chaplin in the welcoming.
Urias died on August 26th after losing his battle with COVID19. He started at APD three decades ago and, according to his son, was looking forward to retirement.
"My dad treated every day as a blessing, knowing tomorrow is not guaranteed, he made the most of every day he had. And dad, your positive outlook on life is something we will hold dear to our heart," said Joshua Urias.
As an APD supervisor, Sgt Urias was remembered for his red pen which he used to correct paperwork.
"When one knew how hard it would ... be to get an arrest affidavit through detective Urias, it ultimately made one better on the street, the questions one would ask, the evidence one would seek, the observations one would note were all things that ultimately improve how one policed," said Officer Justin Berry.
He was also remembered as a leader. When budget cuts forced reassignments, the sergeant took the tough jobs so others would not lose time with their families.
"And Steve told his Lieutenant, that he was near the end of his career, he no longer had small children at home, and to just put him where he was needed," said Interim APD Police Chief Joseph Chacon.
Sgt Urias is the 4th Austin first responder to die within the past 60 days.
He is the 3rd to die because of COVID.
In late July, Officer Andy Traylor was killed in a crash while responding to a priority call. In August, along with Urias, the virus claimed the lives of Officer Randy Boyd and firefighter Rod Kelley.
"I think it’s just important to recognize, that the COVID-19 virus is not going away, it is still here, and it’s more deadly than ever. And I just urge everyone to please get vaccinated," said Chief Chacon.
Sgt. Urias, and the others, are classified as 'In the Line of Duty' deaths. The cases have increased the number of APD officers getting vaccinated. FOX 7 is told the vaccination percentage for the police force is now around 80%.
Requests to get on a waiting list for booster shots have also increased.
While the family of Sgt. Urias mourns their loss there is the fear the virus will strike again. As many as 50 officers are currently sick with COVID with at least one in serious condition. Others have recovered but are experiencing complications.