HUGHSON -- Wednesday was a somber day in Stanislaus County as friends and family said their last goodbyes to Modesto Police Sgt. Mike Pershall.
Investigators say Pershall was killed by a drunken driver last Tuesday while out on a bike ride with his son on Merle Avenue in Modesto.
Loved ones said their final farewells to the man many say was an exemplary leader, father and a one-of-a-kind Modesto police sergeant.
"The gentleman had a heart for helping people," said community leader Frank Johnson.
At Cross Point Community Church in Modesto family and friends shared stories of how Pershall lived his life and shared memories of how loved he was.
"The love is here for them, and we’ll never forget about him," said friend John Loya.
CHP Modesto says Pershall was riding his bike on Merle Avenue in Modesto last Tuesday. Investigators say Matthew Gibbs was driving drunk when he hit the off-duty sergeant. Gibbs has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges
"Mike was a victim of a drunk driver, and we've lost thousands of people in our country to drunk drivers, and there's just no excuse for driving drunk," said Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll.
One of Pershall's best friends, his sons and brothers all spoke about how funny, selfless and dedicated he was to his career and family.
"Mike made everybody feel like he was your best friend and so everybody feels like they've lost their best friend," Carroll said.
Carroll says the police department will be retiring his badge number.
"Nobody else will have that number to honor Mike and his service to his city," he said.
And as the sergeant's body, joined by the hundreds who loved and knew him made its way through downtown Modesto, those who knew him vowed to never forget their friendship.
"We’re going to miss you, Mike. We’re going to be there for your family," Loya said.
The procession made its way to Lakewood Memorial where colleagues, friends and family members paid their final respects honoring Sgt. Mike Pershall.
The man suspected of killing Pershall is expected to be back in court on Sept. 28.