Overflow of mourners say goodbye to Conor Burch

Family, schoolmates, city leaders among attendees

Thomas Conor Burch

Thomas Conor Burch


Photo by Elaine Rackley Attendees of Thomas Conor Burch Funeral Mass held on Monday, at St. James Catholic Church in McDonough, were given small ornaments to attach to their cars during the funeral procession to the Locust Grove Cemetery. The ornaments were a small reminder of Conor, 11, who played outfield for the Indians baseball team. His baseball jersey number was #23.


Photo by Elaine Rackley Haisten Funeral Home loaded 11-year-old Thomas Conor Burch’s body into a hearse Monday following a mass service, held at St. James Catholic Church in McDonough. Charles Iner, deacon-in-training, looked on as the church’s pastor, Father James Flannigan, gave the youngster’s brother Kevin Burch a crucifix to place on top of the casket during the Mass of Christian Burial.


Photo by Elaine Rackley Henry County Police were joined by Locust Grove Police during a processional leaving St. James Catholic church, where a Funeral Mass was held Monday for Thomas Conor Burch. The youngster died Thursday after he was hit by a vehicle on his way to Locust Grove Middle School. Burch’s father, Capt. James Burch, works for Henry County Police, and his mother works for Locust Grove Police Department.


Photo by Elaine Rackley Kevin Burch (left), Charles Iner, a deacon-in-training, St. James Catholic Church pastor Father James Flannigan, Bernadette and James Burch at the church following a funeral mass for 11-year-old Thomas Conor Burch.


Photo by Elaine Rackley St. James Catholic Church Father James Flannigan embraced Bernadette Burch, and James Burch after he officiated a mass service Monday, for their son, Thomas Conor Burch. The 11-year-old Locust Grove Middle School student died as a result of his injuries after he was hit by a vehicle Thursday.


Photo by Elaine Rackley St. James Catholic Church Pastor Father James Flannigan used “Holy Water” to bless the casket carrying the body of Thomas Conor Burch, following a funeral mass Monday for the youngster. Assisting the pastor was Charles Iner (center), deacon-in-training. Burch’s brother, Kevin Burch, mother, Bernadette Burch, and father, James (far right) followed close behind.

Thomas Conor Burch was laid to rest following a funeral mass Monday at St. James Catholic Church in McDonough.

More than 800 people crowded into the church’s sanctuary and two overflow rooms, as Father James Flannigan officiated. City and county officials joined Henry County and Locust Grove police officers for the funeral service of the 11-year-old baseball player who was struck and killed running to his school bus last week. The Locust Grove Middle School sixth-grader died after being life-flighted to Egleston Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta.

“If someone on his team struck out he would say, ‘That’s OK, you will do better next time,’ ” said Flannigan, during the homily of the service. “It is amazing to me to see how many people were touched by this young man.”

The Henry County Police Motorcycle unit led the large funeral procession, followed by a string of marked, and unmarked police cars, en route to the youngter’s interment at the Locust Grove Cemetery.

Attached to the antennas of cars of those attending the mass were red paper baseballs with “R.I.P. Conor” on one side and his jersey number, 23, on the other. On Sunday, the family received friends at the Haisten Funeral Home for the viewing.

“The entire Locust Grove community as well as Locust Grove Middle school students and staff, are saddened with this tragic loss and our hearts are with the family,” said Locust Grove Middle School Principal Tony Townsend.

The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the fatal auto accident.

“The investigation into the accident is on-going by the Georgia State Patrol Specialize Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT),” said GSP spokesman Gordy Wright. “They have to do the investigation to determine if there was a violation before charges are considered.” The SCRT investigating the crash is based in Forsyth, he said.

“SCRT investigations are thorough and in depth and they take time. It is not a quick process,” Wright said. SCRT investigators must collect detailed transcripts, photos, and videos to complete the investigation.

“It could be several weeks before they have everything wrapped up on this case, to determine the sequence of events,” continued Wright.

James Burch, the youngster’s father, is a captain in the Internal Affairs unit of the Henry County Police Department. He has been an officer for 20 years.

“The mood at the police department has been extremely somber since Thursday morning,” said Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols. “A lot of tears have been shed, and it is with heavy hearts that we go to Conor’s funeral today. We continue to pray for Captain Burch and his family during this unbelievably difficult time.”  

Conor’s mother has been with the Locust Grove Police Department for over a decade. She works as an executive assistant to the Police Chief Jesse Patton.

“I would like to take this time to thank the Locust Grove and Henry County community for all the support you have showed to the Burch family and also the extended family of the Locust Grove Police Department,” said Patton. “Conor Burch was born right after Bernadette Burch came to work for the Locust Grove Police Department, and was a sweet blessing to our family ... and will continue to hold a special place in our hearts forever.

“Bernadette has always been the one at our police department to help others when they needed to vent, or just have someone to talk to in hard times, and now, we ... will step up and support the Burch Family in whatever they need,” Patton said. “Thank you, Conor Burch, for blessing us with many wonderful memories that you blessed us with. Dear heavenly Father God, I ask that you continue to wrap your arms around this wonderful family and give them the strength to make it through this difficult time ...”

Henry County Police officials said there have been numerous requests to help the Burch family. Donations are being accepted for the Conor Burch Memorial Fund at the Heritage Bank branch located at 203 Keys Ferry St., in McDonough. The account number is 79043289.