NEW CASTLE —
Shenango Township police officers younger than William J. “Jerry” McCarthy would frequently refer to themselves as “Jerry’s kids.”
Love, respect, religion, comradeship and a strong work ethic — McCarthy always carried those with him as a police officer, a Lawrence County humane officer and a man, according to coworkers left heartbroken by his death.
The 60-year-old died in a traffic accident Thursday night in New Castle, when a car allegedly fleeing police slammed broadside into the cruiser in which he was a passenger.
On Monday, the first of two days of calling hours, Shenango’s police superintendent William Phillips and the county’s district attorney Joshua Lamancusa shared memories and stories that showed the love and respect they have for the fallen officer.
McCarthy is being laid to rest Wednesday in Grove City, following a Mass of Christian burial Wednesday morning at St. Vitus Church and a two-day, 12-hour turnout of hundreds of officers, courthouse employees, former co-workers, friends and family who went to pay last respects.
The outpouring is testament not to how McCarthy died, but to how he lived.
St. Vitus school canceled classes Wednesday and businesses along South Mill Street placed tributes on signs such as, “Rest in Peace,” and “God bless.”
Police officers from throughout the county volunteered to stand vigil at his open casket, two at a time for 15-minute intervals throughout the visitation.
“There has been no shortage of officers,” Lamancusa said.
AT THE ALTAR
An array of flowers in bright hues of purple, red, orange and yellow decorated the church altar where McCarthy’s body lay in state.
His bereft family gathered in the front pew and received friends, more flowers and condolences as lines formed at various intervals Monday and Tuesday.
Two American flags were laid inside the casket, one of which had been draped over him by paramedics at the hospital the night he died.
Lamancusa said that flag would be presented Wednesday to McCarthy’s grandmother, the other larger one to his widow.