DENVER — Police officers, firefighters and weeping teenagers in high school letter jackets packed a rural high school gymnasium Friday to remember five foster and adopted children and their father, all killed in a Colorado highway crash.

More than 800 people observed a casket bearing the remains of Howard Mitchell and four of his children inside the auditorium for the afternoon funeral service. More mourners stood outside. Banks and stores closed and flags flew at half-staff in Eads, a farm town 145 miles southeast of Denver.

Mitchell, a Cheyenne County sheriff's deputy, was taking 12 of his foster and adopted children to school in Eads when his van slammed into an empty cattle trailer last week. The deaths stunned residents throughout eastern Colorado's plains towns.