Trooper James Matthew Bava: The Ultimate Sacrifice

Trooper James Matthew Bava made the ultimate sacrifice on August 28th, 2015.

Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line protecting others every day.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper James Matthew Bava paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty on August 28th, 2015.

He was the patrol officer killed when his vehicle crashed and caught fire while pursuing a motorcyclist in Audrain County.
For the first time, we hear from the family of Trooper Bava and take a look at the life of a son, brother and hero.

"It's not easy at all, but we have a deep faith in God," Alyce Bava, Mother of Trooper James Bava, said. "I trust his providence and that was what struck me from the moment I walked up on my front porch and those words were never uttered 'James is dead' those words were never spoken, but of course they were here," she continued.

Alyce said her older son had rushed to her just saying 'I'm sorry' and that is when it instantly hit her.

It's the worst news a mother could ever hear, but that is the sacrifice families make when they're loved ones take the oath and become a law enforcement officer.

James Bava is survived by his parents, Jim and Alyce Bava, brother Joshua Bava and sisters, Katie and Alyssa Bava and Renee Kunkel.

He was an uncle of Nathan James Bava, Elena Bava, Hannah Kunkel and Delaney Kunkel.

"He really was the one that drew the family together... everyone loved him... he was easy going, quiet natured, yet he loved to put on a little show," Alyce said.

She continued to explain ever since he was a toddler he was always trying to make others smile.

Trooper Bava was appointed to the Highway Patrol on July 1st, 2013 and was a member of the 97th recruit class.

He is the 31st Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper to lose his life in the line of duty.

His brother, Joshua Bava, is also in law enforcement and is a police officer for the O'Fallon Police Department.

"When I have told people in the past, both of my sons are in law enforcement, 'I have a highway patrolman and a city policeman' most other moms will say, 'Oh my do you sleep at night?,' Alyce said. "My response has always been 'Well, I sleep well.'"

She said she has always entrusted them to the care of God.

"You do what you're called to do, regardless of the danger," Alyce said. "They were brothers in blue and that was one of the reason he [Joshua] moved back here."

Joshua and his family moved from the state of Washington to St. Louis, Mo. just three weeks before the fatal crash.

James was engaged to Rose Sanders.

The two met at Greenville College, dated for five years and planned on getting married October 2016.

James was known by his friends as Captain America because it was his favorite superhero, but it also reflected his integrity and character.

"He wasn't a natural born leader, so when he put on the uniform he really felt that sense of empowerment that he was standing behind the badge and that stood for something," Alyce said. "He was a great person of integrity... that his actions meant something."

He was chosen by his Zone 4 sergeant in Audrain County to serve in Ferguson, Mo. twice.

"He was in Ferguson that first night when the riots had begun," Alyce said "He was part of the line up at city hall and he was probably there another 13 days after that."

She also said he went back to serve again for the Ferguson anniversary.

"He felt a real comradery between the other police officers and we had never heard him speak ill of anyone," Alyce said.

James would have celebrated his 26th birthday on October 23rd, 2015.

"Fall always reminds us of James," Alyce said. "We always would do fall festivals or pumpkin patch and things like that... have an outdoor party."

James' father, Jim was so devastated he didn't return to work for several weeks.

"The first 14 months are the hardest cause everything's a year first, his first birthday, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Year's," Alyce said. "It'll be difficult without him."

The Bava's said their church family has been helping them through this difficult time as well as their Highway Patrol family.

"The support there has just been overwhelming, we really do see that there's a family there of support and willingness to meet any need that we have," Alyce said.

Colonel Bret Johnson of the Highway Patrol signed a proclamation retiring Bava's badge number 162.

The Highway Patrol made two shadow boxes of James' belongings for his family which included his uniforms, the license plate of his patrol car and his diploma.

The family was given the only two things that survived the crash, his patrol hat and stuffed animal he always kept in his patrol car.

He kept the stuffed animal in his car to comfort children while on duty.

Alyce said James loved Audrain County and living in the area.

"He realized he was a country boy and loved the country roads... and he really had hoped to make a home in Mexico," she said.

Trooper Bava was a man who took an oath to serve and protect and his life was cut short.

"You know, we're hurting, you know you don't lose a child and not grieve," Alyce said. "There's a deep pain, there's a deep sense of loss there, but again, that belief that there's eternity and that we will be reunited again...."

The Bava family is having a dinner on November 7th for troopers and first responders who were there the day of the accident.

They said the dinner is simply to show appreciation to them and thank them personally for their care.

James' sister Katie came up with the idea hold a toy drive in honor of James' birthday for the St. Louis Children's Hospital.

If you would like to donate a toy in James' honor you may send it to the Bava's directly or to the St. Louis Children's Hospital at 1 Children's Place, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Sergeant Scott White of the Highway Patrol said the crash reconstruction report is close to being finished.

White said they may have a conclusion to report within the next few weeks.

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