The Wheeling police officer who died Saturday after collapsing during a training exercise two days earlier was a decorated Army veteran with service in Kuwait and Iraq, as well as the mother of a 13-year-old daughter, the department said today.
A wake and service for Shamekia Goodwin-Badger, 33, will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, at Kolssak Funeral Home in Wheeling.
Goodwin-Badger joined the Wheeling department in 2008 after four years as an officer in Hawthorn Woods.
“The loss of Officer Badger has deeply shaken all members of the Wheeling department,” Chief William Benson said in a statement released today. “She was an officer who could handle any situation, displaying a calm, firm demeanor, but also one that was compassionate and understanding.”
Goodwin-Badger worked the midnight shift with specialties as a youth officer and evidence technician.
“Officer Badger was very special to the members of the police department — no matter what was happening in one’s life, you could always go to her for a word of encouragement and a guaranteed smile,” Benson said.
Goodwin-Badger was pronounced dead at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge Saturday afternoon. She was taken to the hospital after collapsing at 9:15 p.m. Thursday during night photography training and did not regain consciousness.
A cause of death has not been disclosed. Benson said Monday he had only been told that the death was due to natural causes. Since Goodwin-Badger is an organ donor, Benson said it was his understanding there would be no autopsy.
Not only was Goodwin-Badger in “great physical condition with a very healthy lifestyle,” said the chief, but nearby firefighter-paramedics literally ran to the scene when other police officers notified them that Goodwin-Badger had lowered herself to the ground and become unconscious.
Goodwin-Badger’s reputation was so strong that Benson asked her to apply for the Wheeling job after she was laid off in Hawthorn Woods, said Deputy Chief John Teevans, who credited her experience in the U.S. Army and Hawthorn Woods with making her such a skilled officer.
Benson said as many as 40-50 officers from Wheeling, Hawthorn Woods and other departments were at the hospital at any one time.
“A lot of people in other departments in Cook and Lake County worked with her,” said Benson, and village officials were in constant contact with Benson, whose phone battery went dead the first couple of hours he was at the hospital. Hospital officials set aside a few waiting rooms for her family and supporters and sometimes had to ask them to make room in the hallways, he said.
Benson expects many police officers to show up at the wake and honor service the department is planning in coordination with family members.
“You did not get to meet her,” said Benson, who said it was indicative of Goodwin-Badger’s attitude that she volunteered for the night photography training.
“She always wanted to do more for the department and for Wheeling,” he said. “Her family told us she enjoyed working with the Wheeling police and getting along with people. She considered people here her family.”
When she was off duty Goodwin-Badger’s main interest was her daughter, Benson said.
Hawthorn Woods Police Chief Jennifer Paulus also praised Goodwin-Badger.
“She was a wonderful officer and a fantastic friend to a lot of guys here,” Paulus said. “I am sure she would still be with us had we not had to lay her off (due to budget cuts) in March of 2008.”
Paulus said Goodwin-Badger had attended the retirement party of another Hawthorn Woods officer in the past year. “She was a pleasure to work with, and it’s sad news to hear,” she said. “We wish her daughter the best. It’s very sad.”
Wheeling village flags are flying at half staff, purple bunting marks the entrances of the department in her memory, and public works employees also created memorial decals for police and fire vehicles.
In lieu of flowers, the police department is accepting donations for Goodwin-Badger’s daughter at Wheeling Police Benevolent, 1 Community Blvd., Wheeling IL, 60090.
At a later date funeral services will be held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for Goodwin-Badger, who grew up in that state.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.