Officer Ryan Hayworth laid to rest following large funeral procession

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Saturday, October 23, 2021
Community turns out to support Hayworth family, pay respects
The community turned out in large numbers Friday to support the Hayworth family and pay respects to a Knightdale officer killed in the line of duty.

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fallen Knightdale police officer Ryan Hayworth was laid to rest Friday after a large funeral and procession.

Hayworth, 23, was a US Army veteran who had worked as a police officer in Knightdale for just three months. He died when a drunk driver crashed into him as he worked to help a driver who had crashed along I-540 in the early morning hours of Oct. 17.

Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Friday at Elevation Baptist Church in Knightdale. After those services, a large procession took Hayworth's body from the church to his final resting place at Gethsemane Memorial Gardens in Zebulon, where there was a private burial service for family and close friends.

The pastor said he believes Ryan Hayworth' would want people to serve others, love unconditionally and change the world.

"He always wanted to be a cop," said his brother Adam Hayworth. "I mean, when he would call me from deployment he would say man, I'm so ready to be a cop. When I get back, when I get home, I'm going to .. and I'm going to serve my community just like I served my country."

Speakers at the funeral all praised Hayworth's dedication to Jesus and focus on serving others.

"He understood his purpose. He dedicated his life to work toward the ideals that transcend us all," Knightdale Police Department Chief Lawrence Capps said. "He chose to plot a course which focused more on those around him, rather than on himself."

Pastor praises Ryan Hayworth's love of Jesus and dedication to serving others.

Capps said that Hayworth was an honorable reflection of his family, noting that Hayworth's father was a former police chief in Zebulon.

"Ryan has left an undeniable mark on my life, and I am all the better for it," Capps said before challenging his own police department to pick up the legacy Hayworth left behind and to strive everyday to live up to his expectations.

"I am crushed by Ryan's death. My life will forever be changed by that 3a phone call but in recent days, it has been the knowledge of Ryan's devotion to these things that has kept me going, and in the days ahead, it is this knowledge that will continue to give me personal strength and hope," Capps said. "Ryan has left an undeniable mark on my life and I am all the better for it."

Adam talked about growing up together and how much being a police officer meant to him. Adam said his brother strived to one day become a police chief like their father.

The Community remembered Ryan Hayworth fondly at the funeral for the fallen Knightdale police officer.

"I'm glad that he's in heaven with Jesus, because if he had gotten hurt and he couldn't be a cop, it would've broke his heart."

WATCH: Adam Hayworth talks about his regrets and the things he will never forget about his brother Ryan.

Adam Hayworth talks about his regrets and the things he will never forget about his brother Ryan.

Adam then urged everyone to not take for granted the loved ones in their lives.

"I never told him I loved him, even though he knows," Adam said fighting back tears. Then he joked, "I'm honestly kind of mad at him, because he knows I don't like getting my hair done or dressing up; he knows I don't like crying, but I've done a lot of that this week."

Adam said his brother was great and he would never forget him.

Josh Whitley, Hayworth's friend, said the fallen officer loved hunting, fishing, cooking and following sports. He said Hayworth, with his "famous grin," had a contagious joy that he spread "in any way he could."

"When I think about Ryan, the word that came to my mind was 'joy' ... He brought joy into every day, every conversation, every situation," Whitley said.

People in the Knightdale community lined up to pay respect at Ryan Hayworth's funeral procession.

Hayworth's former pastor, challenged everybody to consider these questions: "What would (Ryan) say to you now? What would be his words to you?"

The pastor said he believes Hayworth's answers would be to serve others, love unconditionally and change the world.

WATCH | 'He has touched so many lives': Knightdale community honors fallen police officer

Hundreds turned out at a candlelight vigil to honor the life of fallen Knightdale police officer Ryan Hayworth.

To help alleviate the potential traffic problems along the processional route, the following 13 Wake County schools dismissed three hours early:

Many residents lined up along the processional route, some with flags, some saluting. Many of them knew Hayworth or his family.

"We want to pay respects to the law enforcement people. We've known him through business and through support of the local police, Chief Hayworth for a long time," Mark Barnes said. "My daughter and his son went to school together."

Barnes, like others, wanted the elder Hayworth to know that he is not alone.

"We believe very adamantly in supporting these men," Barnes said. "Chief is a strong man of faith. I know I've talked to him in years and months past. I know he has that to hold on to. It's hard to express what he's going through now."

Erica Bosford was working at a Shell station when the procession made its way by.

"It's a heartbreaking thing in the first place for someone so young with so much life ahead of them and to lose their life over something senseless," Bosford said. "It's going to be sad to watch and watching all the people there supporting is going to be amazing."

Walter Liles, a Vietnam War veteran knows what it's like to serve.

"It hurt me inside to know. It hurts me every time I see it on TV," Liles said. "It hurts me to know we've lost another young man, not in combat, just doing his job, the job he wanted to know, to protect and serve. This young man is just starting a new life. It's the beginning point and God bless him for everything he was able to do while he was able to serve."

Ronnie Shirley, who gained a measure of fame through his business, Lizard Lick Towing , and TV show of the same name, said he has known the elder Hayworth for many years.

"He had a heart of gold. He would help anybody. If you ever met a man that epitomized a great officer, it was this gentleman," Shirley said. "It's a huge loss with everything going on in the world and social injustice. it's hard enough for people to even come to work, much less good people, and when you lose great people like this, it's going to impact our whole community."