Honorary Officer Abigail Arias’ years-long fight against cancer ended with her death early Tuesday morning, Freeport Police Chief Ray Garivey announced. She was 7.
“She’s not hurting anymore,” Garivey said, adding the last few days were tough for Abigail and her family.
Abigail’s mother, Ilene, father, Ruben, and older brother, Ethan, are obviously very sad, but have unconditional love for her, Garivey said.
“They believe in their God and faith,” he said. “They don’t question God.”
Abigail had experienced “severe stomach issues” for days before, Ruben Arias said in a statement Sunday. The pain was caused by the cancer in her left lung which put pressure on her abdomen and stressed her heart, they learned at an emergency visit, and scans showed she had pneumonia, according to the statement.
Abigail was given antibiotics via injection and a prescription to fight the pneumonia while at home, where she rested and took medication for pain and to help her sleep, according to the statement.
The Angleton girl was 4 years old when she was diagnosed in February 2017 with a stage 4 Wilms’ tumor, a form of kidney cancer most often found in young children. After rounds of treatment, the cancer returned.
About a year ago, her family was told there was nothing else that could be medically done for her cancer.
Hours after learning the news of her death, first responders from around Brazoria County gathered at Buc-ee’s on Highway 35 in Angleton, prepared to escort Abigail’s body and her family from their home in Angleton to Stroud Funeral Home in Clute.
Pct. 2 Constable Willie Howell set out to make sure they had a proper escort, Garivey said.
“Abigail is one of our honorary officers, she’s one of everybody’s honorary officers,” Howell said. “This is what you do, this is family and family pulls together.”
He made a phone call, but it’s Abigail who brought everyone together, he said. Dozens of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks escorted the casket.
It was a sad day for all law enforcement in Brazoria County, Pct. 4 Constable James Brawner said. Abigail was upbeat, spiritual and a “blessing to be around,” he said.
“They’re here to honor her,” Howell said. “She’s everything … she just put a smile on your face when you’re there. There’s something about that child. It’s hard to explain; God-sent, you could say.”
Howell said there will be an honor guard at Stroud Funeral Home as long as the girl’s body is there and he took the first watch.
Mourners around the world expressed their grief for the loss of the 7-year-old Tuesday, including Oscar Martinez, who drove from Pearland to watch the procession.
“It’s a very touching story,” he said. “It must be devastating for the family to go through this. I was at home crying myself.”
Abigail became internationally beloved after Garivey helped fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer and swore her in as Freeport Honorary Officer 758 last year. She since was sworn in as an honorary officer to dozens of departments across Texas and the country.
She became an honorary Texas Ranger at the Texas Capitol Building, where the Texas House passed a resolution to commend her perseverance. Speaker Dennis Bonnen said the greatest joy of his year was meeting and falling in love with Abigail, who he called “our Angleton angel.”
Abigail had days dedicated to her in Freeport and Brazoria County.
Abigail became an easily recognizable face in the community, attending numerous events as a special guest, including visiting the White House after an invitation from the Secret Service last month.
Her mother told The Facts they got encouraging mail for Abigail from as far as Australia.
She was surrounded by family and friends when she died early Tuesday morning, Garivey said.
Abigail’s family is happy she’s in a better place, but missing her, he said.
They wanted to thank everyone worldwide who prayed for Abigail, loved her and supported her journey, Garivey said.
The family will announce funeral arrangements when they are completed, the Freeport Police Department announced, adding they invite everyone who loved Abigail to attend.
The family is also asking that in lieu of flowers and gifts to make a donation to Abigail’s foundation, Officer 758’s Cancer Fight.
Abigail was a student at Westside Elementary School in Angleton ISD.
The district’s counselors will be available to help any students or staff who need to speak with someone and extra help will be available at Westside for the remainder of the week as needed, the district announced.
“If parents are concerned about their children during this hard time, we ask that they contact their counselors so that we can provide help,” the district’s statement reads. “In honor of Officer 758, by 11 a.m. today our flags will be lowered to half-staff until further notice.”
Mayor Jason Perez ordered all of Angleton’s flags to be flown at half-staff Tuesday and had sent up a request to the governor to expand that order to the state, he said.