The legacy of a Collier County Sheriff's Office deputy was honored at a memorial service Friday in Naples. Cpl. Mark Lucente, 48, was killed May 26 in a crash on I-75 while he was driving to work.
Lucente was laid to rest last week in his home town of Dayton, Ohio. But his family wanted to make sure that his fellow deputies, as well as the community, had a chance to say good-bye. A memorial service was held at New Hope Ministries on Davis Boulevard, attended by friends, family and members of the community, as well as law enforcement officers from several agencies in Southwest Florida.
"The man was exceptional," said Dennis Broyles, a good friend of Mark's. "I'm just proud to have known him."
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said that Lucente, an Army veteran, worked in the county jail, and used his Christian faith to help set an example for inmates.
"He obviously liked to interact with people and to try and help them, and put them back on the straight and narrow," Rambosk said.
"He saw his role as a mentor and teacher to others," said Lucente's sister Teresa Brininger.
Friends and family say Lucente also saw it as his duty to spread his faith overseas, especially in the Middle East, where distributing Bibles is not always well-received.
"That's the way the man lived his life - as an example to Jesus Christ," Broyles said. "And without a doubt, I know he's in Heaven."
While coming to grips with his death, Lucente's family takes solace in the impact that he left with others. Briniger had a simple message for her brother during the memorial service:
"You left this world in a better place than when you found it," she said. "And for that, you have to be very proud."