Flags and ‘Amazing Grace:’ Norton Shores officer laid to rest

Officer Jonathan Ginka killed in car crash last week

Officer Jonathan Ginka
An undated courtesy photo of Officer Jonathan Ginka. (Norton Shores Police Department)

NORTH MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of officers from law enforcement agencies across the state came to West Michigan Tuesday to attend the funeral for a Norton Shores officer killed in a crash.

Officer Jonathan Ginka, 34, died after his cruiser hit a tree on Henry Street in Norton Shores in the early morning hours of May 10. Michigan State Police are still trying to determine what led up to the crash, but have said speed was not a factor and Ginka was wearing his seat belt.

Authorities from Novi, Holland Ottawa County, North Muskegon and MSP were at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Laketon Township before Ginka’s 11 a.m. funeral, which started with “Amazing Grace.”

Kitrina Serna, whose father was killed in the line of duty years ago, was there to pin blue ribbons on each person at the service.

“I don’t even know how to put into words how much it hurts to hear another officer has died,” Serna, who is part of the Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors group, told 24 Hour News 8. “It’s not just a loss to the family or the department, it’s the entire community.”

The loss of Ginka was felt and seen on the sidewalks of North Muskegon, where he grew up. Community members lined the funeral procession path as a full escort — dozens of cop cars and a sea of emergency lights — led Ginka’s body on his final ride.

Ruth Dagen’s kids grew up with Ginka. She brought American flags to mark the procession path.

“Jonathan was protecting our country. Locally, but protecting our country,” she said.

The one-mile route from the church to the Laketon Township Cemetery was stretched to seven miles, winding past places where Ginka spent his youth.

At the cemetery, a flag was flown at half-staff, a helicopter flew overhead and “Taps” was played.

Lee Bean, who didn’t know Ginka, was there to pay tribute.

“These people go out and save people’s lives. They lose theirs. And I don’t know what we’d do without them,” Bean told 24 Hour News 8.

While Ginka dedicated his life to public service as a police officer and also a firefighter, he was also dedicated to his wife and two daughters.

One of his daughters wrote a message to him on the back of the funeral program:

“My dad was not only an amazing dad, but he was an amazing person for this country, his friends, and family. I will love you and miss you forever, I now finally know you are getting some rest. Keira.” 

The Kalamazoo Valley Community College police academy alumnus was the first on-duty officer the Norton Shores Police Department has lost. NSPD offices were closed Tuesday so fellow officers could attend his funeral.

Gov. Rick Snyder ordered flags to fly at half-staff Tuesday in his honor.