LAWRENCE, Mich. (WOOD) — A Van Buren County road worker who was hit by a car and killed last week was honored at a vigil Monday night by his family, friends, neighbors and colleagues from across the state.
The vigil for Rene Rangel was held at the Van Buren County Road Commission Maintenance Facility in Lawrence.
The ceremony began with a unified dispatch to Decatur, where county sheriff’s deputies and county road workers escorted the family of Rangel to the vigil.
Following prayer, his colleagues shared his story. Some said his persona made them look forward to clocking in and working with him every day.
“Rene was an amazing man. His positive attitude, his fun-loving style, his dedicated work ethic, it was all contagious. You couldn’t help but be happy around Rene,” Linnea Rader with the Van Buren County Road Commission said.
His sister also spoke.
“He was the most kind, loving, gentle human being you could be around, even when he was angry, he never took it out on no one. He would talk to you and he was just there for everyone. From this day forward, I will always carry him in my heart,” she said.
His happiness was carried out when the candlelit crowd listened to his favorite song, AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”
Alongside the sea of lights and candles was a makeshift memorial with a pot of sunflowers — a symbol of loyalty and happiness — and a note saying Rangel exemplified that everywhere, every time.
“Through tragedy comes a realization that our family is even larger than we realized. Not only do we have a new family with the Rangel family, we have Rene’s friends. We realize that other road conditions, other DPW’s, fire departments, police departments and our community are a family, Radar said.
“We will forever miss our friend and our colleague,” she said.
Rangel’s funeral is scheduled for next week.
Rangel, 58, of Dowagiac, was killed Friday morning while working on County Road 681 north of 44th Street, northwest of Lawrence. Michigan State Police say a pickup truck driver ignored the traffic signs Rangel was holding, rear-ended another vehicle and hit Rangel.
Drugs were believed to have been involved but no arrests had been made as of Monday. MSP said the crash remained under investigation and they are waiting for autopsy results and lab analysis. When the investigation is complete, the county prosecutor will make a decision on charges.