CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WDRB) -- An investigation continues into the line-of-duty death of a Charlestown Police officer in southern Indiana.
Officer Benton Bertram died late Wednesday after crashing his cruiser into a tree while pursuing a suspect into Scott County.
Thursday turned somber in Charlestown, where the 33-year-old had worked for the Charlestown Police Department for nearly a decade.
"He would do anything for anybody," said Mark Bertram, the officer's uncle. "I will honor him for the rest of his life."
He said he'll remember his nephew with words like "dignity" and "honor."
"He was doing his job, and he would give it all," Mark Bertram said of his nephew, who graduated from Charlestown High School and was part of the K-9 division of the city police department.
Pictures show the bond between Benton Bertram and his police dog.
"He lived for his dogs. He was the biggest dog lover ever, and it showed," the uncle said.
Bertram was killed when police say his car hit a tree during a chase that ended at State Road 3 and State Road 56 around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"It sounded like a thunderstorm was rolling in," said Amanda Goodman, who was at the scene.
Investigators with Indiana State Police say Benton Bertram was trying to make a traffic stop when 35-year-old Benjamin Eads took off in a teal Toyota Corolla.
During the pursuit, Benton Bertram lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree in the front yard of a home. Fellow officers arrived at the scene soon after the crash, Goodman says.
"I heard them yelling for an AED," Goodman said. "They need to try to resuscitate him."
But Bertram died at the scene.
It was an emotional scene when dozens of officers lined up and saluted Benton Bertram as his body was put into the ambulance, said Jimmy Fudate, who lives nearby.
"I don't even know how to describe it," Fudate said. "It was just really sad. People hugging and crying and then all got in a big line and took off down the road. I was like, wow."
"You could tell they were heartbroken, and I got teary eyed over the whole scene watching them walk around." Goodman added.
Wreckage has been cleared from the wooded area, but a tree with a splintered trunk remains at the scene.
On Thursday night, with the pain still fresh, hundreds lined streets in Charlestown as Benton Bertram's body was escorted back to Charlestown. Some who showed up were family, others were friends, and many didn't know the fallen officer at all.
"It's just a horrible loss in such a senseless, silly act," said Barbie Meredith, who was in attendance Thursday.
Meredith had only met Benton Bertram once, and it wasn't under the best of circumstances.
"I was driving with a headlight out, and he pulled me over and asked me if I knew I had a headlight out," she remembered. "He gave me my ticket and just told me to get it done as soon as I could."
But she said it was his impeccable professionalism during that stop that made her rush from work to pay her respects during the procession.
Meanwhile, the Scott County prosecutor has charged the suspect, Eads, with Resisting Law Enforcement Causing Death, a Level 2 Felony. In Clark County, he is charged with Resisting Law Enforcement, a Level 6 Felony, and Auto Theft, a Level 6 Felony. More charges are possible.
Eads is being held at the Scott County Jail.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized for Bertram.
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