Colorado horse-drawn hearse returning to honor fallen officers

GILLETTE, Wyo. -- Everyone was broken-hearted earlier this year, when three Colorado deputies were killed in the line of duty in a span of five weeks.  But one woman was moved to do something if it ever happens again.

She's bringing back her horse-drawn hearse.

Lorraine Melgosa thought her horse hauling days were done.

"Well I retired five years ago," Melgosa told FOX 31.

But tragedy has a way of changing plans.

"You know, five years passes and we lose three police officers and it broke my heart," she said.

So last week, she picked up two Percheron horses.  And they`re all going to work.

"It will be an honor guard like no other in the country," Melgosa said.  They're calling it Rocky Mountain Honor Guard.

"We pray, pray, pray that we`re never called, but if the unthinkable happens, we want to be there to offer it to the families," she said.

Melgosa has already been there for than 700 families. Over the course of 20 years, free of charge, she packed up her horse and hearse and carried the caskets of soldiers, police officers, murder victims and children to their final resting place.

"It`s just such a noble, honorable, respectable way to pay your respects at a funeral. You know - President Kennedy, Princess Diana - they were all escorted by a by a horse-drawn wagon, and we just think this hearse is the most honorable way we can memorialize our fallen," she said.

We first introduced you to Melgosa in 2013, just before she retired.  But two weeks ago, she called us, saying in light of current events, it was time to get some new horses and start back up again.

She reached out to someone else, too.

"So I texted Joe Moseley.  And I said, 'Joe, what do you think about getting this hearse going?' And he said, 'We're on board, we're all over this.'"

"We've maintained a friendship over the years since we lost our daughter," said Joe Moseley.

The Moseleys are one of those 700 families Lorraine was there for in the past.

In 1995, their 12 year old daughter died from equine encephalitis, a rare infection, spread from horses to humans.

"Sarah was part of the Westernaires riding club, very active with horses, we had her her own horse, and when we lost Sarah, Rainey (Lorraine) just appeared out of nowhere," Moseley said.

On your darkest day, it`s nice to know someone is trying to make things a little better for you.  That`s why the Moseleys have vowed to help Lorraine help other families now.

"This is also Sarah`s legacy, and this is a way for the Moseleys to honor Sarah. And what more beautiful way than with a beautiful horse. And this honorable mission," Melgosa said.

It's a mission friends and family gathered to kick off just days ago at a horse ranch near Gillette, Wyoming.

"This is where my last horse, Duke, spent his last year of retirement," Melgosa said.

By fall, they hope and pray their new horses will be fully trained to carry out their sacred duty.

"And its sole mission will be to honor law enforcement and military killed in the line of duty," Melgosa said.

To support Melgosa, Moseley and the Rocky Mountain Honor Guard, visit their page here.

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