Just before he died, Tim Buchanan danced with his daughter at her wedding.
The detective’s coworkers at the York County Sheriff’s Office, talking about Buchanan’s gentle spirit, said that dance in Costa Rica Saturday – just moments before Buchanan suffered an apparent heart attack – will live forever.
“That dance is something that will never be forgotten,” said George Weeks, director of York County’s forensic unit and Buchanan’s longtime supervisor and friend. “Presumably, it warmed his heart while it was occurring.”
Cops are not supposed to cry, but they do. They hurt and they love and their hearts break like the rest of us. On Tuesday, there was a lot of crying at the York County Sheriff’s Office. Every heart was broken.
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The 54-year-old Buchanan, who had become a detective earlier this year after years as a forensic technician, was a rare gem of a man whose dedication to the job was only surpassed by his dedication to family, Weeks said. Every badge at that courthouse Tuesday was covered with a black band.
“You couldn’t ask for better than Tim Buchanan,” Weeks said.
Buchanan had been battling heart problems before the wedding dance, said Lt. Carson Neely, a longtime coworker and close friend. Neely said that the family is urging anyone with a medical condition to make sure it is checked and handled – even if that means slowing down.
“They want people to know that you have to take care of yourself,” said Neely, who had been a friend to Buchanan for 18 years.
Buchanan’s loyalty as a friend and deputy was unmatched, Neely said, and the “mountain of a man” was a loving and caring coworker, friend and family man. Missing the wedding was as out of the question as missing evidence, he said.
“Tim Buchanan was a good man and a great man,” Neely said. “He did everything the right way.”
Neely’s wife, forensics investigator Paula Neely, trained under Buchanan when she started as a cop, and the two remained friends almost as close as family.
“You always breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Tim had your back,” she said.
Buchanan worked as a deputy for 19 years, most recently as a detective investigating cyber crimes. A loving family man dedicated to the community, Buchanan was an Army National Guardman for 12 years.
He worked for Lt. Jimmy Fudge for years – first on patrol and then in warrant service – before Buchanan left for the forensics unit.
“Tim was one of those people who treated everyone the way he would want to be treated – with respect,” Fudge said. “He was a person who was admired. He was a good friend, a good man, a good family man. The kind of person you are proud to have as a friend.”
The sheriff’s office and the rest of the Moss Justice Center courthouse was somber Tuesday in dealing with the loss of Buchanan.
Kevin Tolson, an investigator for the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and former sheriff’s deputy running unopposed for York County Sheriff in November, spent years working in forensics. He described Buchanan as an excellent officer who was well liked and respected.
“Tim was a quiet man, dependable and devoted to his job and his family,” Tolson said. “It’s a sad day here.”
Retired deputy Pat Kiefer worked with Buchanan on patrol.
“When someone says a good guy, a good person, a good friend, a good officer,” Kiefer said, “that was Tim Buchanan.”
Want to help?
A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family of Detective Tim Buchanan. Go to gofundme.com/jenibuchanan.
A private memorial service is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday.