OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A 23-year-old Overland Park police officer has died after contracting COVID-19.

Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez announced Tuesday around 6 p.m. that Freddie Castro passed away a short time ago.

“Freddie was young, enthusiastic and so proud to be a police officer,” Donchez said in a statement. “He left a lasting impact on our department and we will miss him. Please keep Freddie’s family and friends and his OPPD family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Being an Overland Park officer was Castro’s dream come true. His brother, Dominic Pacheco said since he was little, Castro always wanted to make it happen.

Donchez said he first met Castro when he was a young man at an event at Johnson County Community College. The city manager approached Donchez with Castro and told him he wanted to be a police officer but he was too young.

Donchez said he told Castro at the time he was too young to be a police officer but could join their Motor Assist Unit. In his new position Castro thrived.

Castro was recognized for two instances where he made the difference for people in need.

In 2017, he encountered a paraplegic man who’s accessible van broke down on I-35. The man wrote Donchez about his experience, and in the letter says he was left on the side of the road stuck in his wheelchair with only $3 in his pocket. The letter says Castro, along with two other officers, assisted the man and his van back to Gardner, Kansas free of charge.

In 2019, when he was 21, Castro finally made his dream come true of being an Overland Park Police Officer.

Castro caught COVID-19 in July, and quickly his health deteriorated. Pacheco said he was sick at home for about a week until he went to the hospital.

For the past month Castro has been unconscious and on a ventilator. Pacheco said the last time he was able to physically talk to him he was at home, sick, and unsure what to do.

His family said Castro was not vaccinated when he caught COVID-19. They are unsure about his feelings on vaccination.

If you are wondering how you can help Castro and his family there are a few ways.

The Overland Park Police Officers Foundation is raising funds for his family