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Balloon Takes Tribute Far…and Back

By CLAUDIA COFFEY
WHAS11 Reporter

On Christmas Eve, a Bardstown officer and his daughters released a balloon with a special note for Officer Jason Ellis on it. On Thursday, Jan. 3, the department received a touching note from a man in Pennsylvania, 678 miles away, who found that balloon.

In Bardstown, it began with a simple Christmas Eve gesture. On the Bardstown Police Facebook page, you can see Officer John Snellen and his daughters release a balloon in honor of Officer Ellis.

“It was just a private thing they wanted to do and they did it from the police department parking lot.” said Capt. Tom Roby of the Bardstown Police Department.

On Dec. 26, 80-year-old Kermit Roth in Allentown, Penn. found that balloon and sent a letter back to the department.

“He sees it settle in a snow squall. He sees this blue star balloon. He goes out and gets it and starts noticing the writing on it,” Roby said.

On the balloon, Officer Snellen’s daughter wrote: “Merry Christmas in heaven, Ellis. We miss you and so do all your brothers in blue. Never forget.”

“He had never heard the story,” Roby said. “So he starts Googling and doing some research; finds a page talking about Jason, the FBI and a tip line. He did all that and took time to write us back a letter.”

Roby is still in shock that the balloon made it that far and someone would answer.

“I have had a smile on my face since it happened. It’s really choked me up,” Roby said. “From the balloon to this new memorial wall, everyone here at the department and in town has been doing something personal to remember Officer Jason Ellis.”

The tribute has pictures from Officer Ellis’ life, his family and his final farewell. It was a story that a total stranger read all about because of a simple balloon, 678 miles away, and now he too will never forget.

“Just a story to make you smile. It rejuvenates the soul a bit,” Roby said.

Kermit Roth even donated to the fund to help Ellis’ wife and children.

The reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible in his death is now at a quarter of $1 million.