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Troopers weep as a young colleague is buried


An article in The Sun yesterday about the funeral of Mark P. Groner, a Maryland state trooper, failed to include among his survivors Trooper Groner's father, Harvey H. Groner Jr.

The Sun regrets the error.

Placed next to Maryland State Trooper First Class Mark P. Groner's casket yesterday was a picture of him and his mother that was taken when he was promoted in February.

The picture was a Mother's Day gift, although the 24-year-old trooper had given it to her only last Thursday -- the day he would be killed in a three-car collision while responding to a traffic accident in Dorchester County.

Yesterday his mother eulogized him as a guardian angel.

"He's our guardian angel watching over us now," Patricia Burd told mourners. "When you're out there in trouble, his hand will be there to guard you."

The funeral yesterday drew 1,000 officers from state and federal law enforcement agencies and 10 out-of-state police departments.

As the trooper's casket was carried two blocks down a hill to a waiting hearse after the service, a legion of law enforcement officers stood at attention and saluted.

A line of colorful flags fluttered in the crisp autumn breeze.

Part of Reisterstown Road was closed to traffic during the 90-minute service at the Eckhardt Funeral Chapel in Owings Mills.

A motorcade of some 400 cars to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, where Trooper Groner was buried, backed up traffic on York Road for at least a mile.

Before and after the 11 a.m. service, troopers and employees of the state police barracks in Easton, where Trooper Groner was assigned, stood weeping as the blue casket was carried past them. A trooper carrying a beige Stetson -- the department's symbol for a missing state trooper -- followed the casket.

"This is a very sad time for me," said Col. Larry W. Tolliver, superintendent of the Maryland State Police. "I pray to God I don't have to do this again. He was an excellent trooper."

In her eulogy, Mrs. Burd recalled how Trooper Groner fell in love with classical music at age 10 when he went to the symphony for the first time. Music became his avocation.

"He pursued music with all his heart and soul. He learned the notes, but he felt music," Mrs. Burd said. "I still remember after he bought his first car, a convertible, how we drove away from the dealership with the wind blowing through our hair and Beethoven playing. He was so happy."

Trooper Groner was a Baltimore native who was appointed to the Maryland State Police Academy in October 1988 and graduated in April 1989. He graduated from the Baltimore School for the Arts in 1986 and attended Towson State University for one year as a music major. After leaving college, he joined the Maryland Army National Guard, reaching the rank of specialist E-4.

He played the tuba and bass horn for the 229th Army National Guard band, which attended the funeral and played the hymns, "Rock of Ages" and "Onward Christian Soldiers."

Trooper Groner is also survived by his stepfather, Dale Burd of Owings Mills; a stepbrother; and several brothers and sisters.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer attended the service with state Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Bishop L. Robinson.

"Each time this happens, I have the same sadness and hurt in my heart," Mr. Schaefer said after the funeral. "The tears just have to flow, you don't get used to this. It is a loss of your own family."

Mark Groner was the 34th state trooper killed in the line of duty.

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