CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- A blood drive was held in north suburban Crystal Lake to honor a McHenry County sheriff's deputy killed while in the line of duty.
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Deputy Jake Keltner was killed while serving an arrest warrant at a Rockford hotel. His wife, Becki Keltner, wanted to have a blood drive to help others and honor her late husband, but the response was more than she bargained for.
Organizers were originally hoping to have 100 donors, but they have more than tripled that amount.
"It's been a very hard time for our family but knowing these people are here for us has helped us make it through every single day," said Keltner.
After being shot, Deputy Keltner was transported to a hospital where received several units of blood that helped keep him alive for six hours. That was long enough for his family to make it to the hospital to say their goodbyes.
"Jake was really big on helping other people, you know, service over self. Having that blood kept him alive and gave us precious last moments with him," said his brother Luke.
Keltner's death brought an outpouring of support for his family from the McHenry County community. That support continues nearly a year later, from ordinary citizens to members of the law enforcement community.
"Seeing the overwhelming support, it really goes to show that we all stand together," said Nick Reid, of the Illinois Conservation Police. The organization sent sent several officers to donate blood.
The blood drive comes at a critical time for the Red Cross, when supplies are running extremely low. Every unit contributed here will be used to help as many as three patients needing blood.
"It's emotional not only for the donors, but for our staff and volunteers," said American Red Cross Regional Donor Services Executive Sonja Juric.
For the Keltner family, it's the way they want to remember Jake, who they say was always looking for ways to help others.
"If somebody would've told him that day someone isn't coming home, he still would've gone. That's just who he was," said his father Howard.
Hundreds donate blood in honor of fallen McHenry Co. Deputy Jake Keltner
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