Thursday, March 16, 2006

Plaques honor fallen cop & horse killed during Dead show


From Philadelphia Daily News:

Plaques honor fallen cop, horse
Drunk driver struck them in '87

By REGINA MEDINA
medinar@phillynews.com 215-854-5985

Elizabeth McCarthy couldn't believe her eyes yesterday morning as she sat with her family at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

The throngs of people who paid tribute to her late husband, Police Officer William McCarthy, at a hero-plaque dedication ceremony were a surprise for the mother of four.

"It was so overwhelming to see how many people showed up after all these years," said McCarthy, referring to the Sept. 22, 1987, death of her husband, Bill, a mounted officer, and his horse, Skipper.

"People who he knew from his childhood and the police department [came]. It's [heartening] that people don't forget," said McCarthy, of Flourtown, after the ceremony.
"He's truly loved."

McCarthy and Skipper were killed by a drunken driver outside the Spectrum as they directed traffic during a Grateful Dead concert.

Two plaques were unveiled, each surrounded by seven votive candles. McCarthy's four children - Jennifer, 26; Lauren and Nicole, both 23, and Bill Jr., 18 - were on hand.

Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson made his first public appearance since his father's death on Sunday.

"It's an important part of the police family," he said.

Cameron Sears, chief executive officer of Grateful Dead Productions, sent a letter that read, "Officer McCarthy paid the ultimate sacrifice and we recognize that his death is a huge loss to his family, friends, fellow police officers and the public that he swore to protect."

Three of McCarthy's children attended college with the help of the Hero Scholarship Fund. Jennifer is an emergency nurse at Lankenau Hospital; Lauren works at an elementary school and is finishing her master's degree at Chestnut Hill College; Nicole is a seventh-grade math teacher in Virginia, and Bill Jr. is expected to graduate from Springfield High School and to attend East Stroudsburg University.

Jennifer was 8 when her father died, the twins were 5 and Bill Jr. was a month old.
Elizabeth McCarthy hopes that "people will pass by and remember him and how much police do for the city and how much they make sacrifices for us."

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