Community grieving | Florist sees ‘significant amount’ of orders ahead of funeral for Big Stone Gap officer

Local

BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) – A Southwest Virginia community continues to mourn one of their own.

Officer Michael Chandler was killed in the line of duty on Saturday morning. On Monday afternoon, his body returned home to Big Stone Gap following an autopsy in Roanoke. 

With Officer Chandler now home, funeral preparations are underway

L.J. Horton Florist in Big Stone Gap has received more than 30 orders as of Tuesday afternoon for flowers for Officer Chandler’s visitation and funeral. 

Master Floral Designer Sara Hale said that’s a “significant amount,” considering not everyone sends their condolences through flowers. She said some people may choose to donate to a charity in lieu of floral arrangements, but she feels the orders will continue to flood in since he had such an impact on the community. 

“We are just one florist in the area that will be sending flowers. I’m sure throughout the county he’ll receive many orders,” said Hale.

Her team has been hard at work putting together arrangements to honor the late officer and volunteer firefighter. Meanwhile, the town remains a tribute to Chandler with not only a memorial in the center of town but also blue ribbons lining the street in Chandler’s memory. 

Chris Kelly said he knew Chandler personally and is honoring him by wearing a white rose with a blue and black ribbon pinned on top of his heart, the same place he holds his late friend. Kelly said he wouldn’t miss the funeral for the world.

“Michael wanted me to be there, and I’ll have to be there for him and his family. He was just a good person to be around,” said Kelly.

Hale said while she didn’t know Officer Chandler personally, she knew of him. She said his loss is a great tragedy in their small town.

“It’s always a sad thing when a young person is killed in any community and especially our police force because they’re out there every day putting their lives on the line,” said Hale.

A public visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 17 from 3 until 7 p.m. at the UVA-Wise convocation center.

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