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Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- Dozens gathered to honor and celebrate the life of NOPD officer Rodney Thomas, 52, who was tragically killed in a hit and run accident.

Thomas died early Sunday morning when he was struck by a 2013 Porsche while directing traffic after being involved in a minor accident on the Interstate 10 high rise.

Friends and family say officer Rodney Thomas died doing what he loved.

'It was basically his dream, and he tried for a long time and finally got on the force,' said his brother, Reginald Jackson. 'He was really proud of it.'

His family says that even from an early age Thomas wanted to be a police officer so he could help and serve others.

'He was insistent on giving. He would give and give at all cost,' said Jackson.

'Rodney was an amazing person. He genuinely cared about other people,' said Commander Paul Noel.

Noel worked alongside Thomas for eight years and said his sudden and tragic death was not only a loss for friends and family, but the entire community he served.

'He was very connected to the community, and when he passed we received so many phone calls, letters and emails from people he actually came in contact with,' said Noel.

Police say Thomas was involved in a minor accident on the Interstate 10 highrise and had stepped out of his car to check on the driver when a Porsche Panamera hit him and then drove off.

'The police department is like a family, so anytime we lose a member of the family it's hard,' said Noel.

But it has been even tougher for his family. Jackson says Thomas is one of 12 siblings who are experiencing the loss of a brother for the first time.

At Thursday night's prayer vigil, Commander Noel addressed Thomas' grieving family saying,'he will never be forgotten, we will always be with you all.'

Jackson says it's that show of support and love from the community that is helping the family cope with the tragedy. 'It is what is needed and it makes all the difference.'

According to the New Orleans Police Department, members of the community are invited to attend the funeral services on Friday, July 12 at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, at 2515 Franklin Ave. in New Orleans.

Visitation will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Services will begin at 10 a.m. Following the service, a procession will pass the 2nd District Station on Magazine Street around 11:30 a.m. The procession will end at Lake Lawn Cemetery where Officer Thomas will be laid to rest.

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