BETHESDA, Md. - A Maryland family is preparing to say a final goodbye to their loved one. A special burial at Arlington National Cemetery is planned Friday morning for Tim Holden, a high-ranking Navy SEAL who was killed riding his bike on Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda nearly four months ago.
Since his death, Holden’s family has learned more than they ever knew about him. He didn’t just have a huge impact on his family, but also with his community and the nation.
Holden was a doting father of five girls, a grandfather and the oldest of nine siblings.
“An incredible family man, leader, a dad,” said Peter Holden, Tim’s youngest brother.
He said Tim was his idol and a mentor.
“Career military, went to the Naval Academy, then went on to become a Navy SEAL and then he got two graduate degrees from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology),” Peter told us.
A highly decorated Navy SEAL, Tim Holden served in the Gulf War and was the first American in Kuwait City.
He would later go on to serve at all levels of command for the Navy SEALs.
“He went on to be the commodore of all the SEALs on the West Coast,” said Peter. “Tim also had a knack for extreme leadership and grooming people.”
He held senior executive positions with several Fortune 500 companies focused on developing security technology. He was the founder and CEO of Advanced Integrated Systems, a security technology company in the United Arab Emirates.
But it wasn't until after his death that his family learned that Tim was selected to establish specific anti-terrorism warfare programs for the U.S. Navy.
He also never even mentioned to his family that he had broken the Navy SEAL record for running the fastest marathon.
“That's what it is I think about his life -- just being a humble man doing the best he could,” said Peter. “Nothing stood in his way of accomplishing what he wanted to do.”
But his family said the most impressive of all was his involvement with the community, the church and his ability to connect with people.
“He took the time to know people,” said Tim’s brother. “I've had people come up and tell me that Tim Holden was my best friend.”
Tim Holden’s full life came to an abrupt end on August 28. An avid cyclist, he was headed to meet his daughter for coffee.
At the same time, Ricardo Freeman was headed to work.
Police were unable to determine why exactly Freeman drifted onto the shoulder. Investigators suspect he may have dozed off. Not far from his destination, Freeman plowed into Holden killing him.
A ghost bike now stands in memoriam in the area.
“It's clear that Tim was doing everything he could to keep himself safe,” said Tom Craver, a fellow cyclist.
He said what happened to Holden is evidence of how out of control distracted, impaired and overall irresponsible driving has become. Also, how weak the laws are.
“He’s a victim of this and the person who caused that got misdemeanors, and it’s just unbalanced, it doesn't feel like justice,” said Craver.
Freeman was charged with negligent driving and has been fined no more than $1,500.
The Holden family is enduring the loss of the patriarch of their family and a lifetime of grief.
“It's an incredible tragedy,” said Peter. “I always knew he was an incredible man, but I think the people who have come out of the woodwork to say that Tim had an influence on me, he touched me -- just an incredible loss.”
Tim Holden will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where his parents, grandparents and his son are all buried as well.
Freeman did not face any criminal charges. He was not mandated to go to court with the charges he did face and only has to pay the fine.
Montgomery County police are working to change the law.