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May 17, 2014

Biden comforts Jerry McCarthy’s widow

NEW CASTLE — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden cupped Patty Jo McCarthy’s necklace in his hands and put his forehead against hers.

“Sweet girl, you will smile again someday. I promise you,” he said to her.

The necklace, a heart on a chain, bears the photograph of William J. “Jerry” McCarthy IV, a Shenango Township police officer and Lawrence County humane officer who was killed in an on-duty traffic accident May 2, 2013.

McCarthy was working his part-time job for Shenango the night of his death. His wife said she had talked to him on the phone not long before learning of the crash that claimed his life.

McCarthy was one of 112 officers who had died in 2013 and were remembered this week at the National Law Enforcement Officers memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

Patty Jo McCarthy, who was accompanied at the somber observances by William Phillips, Shenango’s police superintendent, had the opportunity to meet Biden when he greeted the families of slain officers at a gathering at the Capitol.

Biden presented her with two Supreme Sacrifice medals from the National Fraternal Order of Police in memory of her husband.

She told Biden that she always had looked past Jerry’s badge. “He was my soul mate,” she told the vice president, wearing the necklace with Jerry’s picture. “I told him, this is my love muffioni.

“He kissed me and held me and I cried on his shoulder. He said he knows my pain because he lost his wife and his daughter,” McCarthy’s widow said. “My heart bled for everybody there.”

Several other police officers from Lawrence County made the trip to Washington to pay tribute to McCarthy during the four-day observance, which started with the arrival of police bicyclists riding in the Unity Tour, a fundraising event for the national memorial.

Steve Brooks, a New Castle officer, and Chad Adams, a Pulaski sergeant, were among the riders, in memory of McCarthy.

McCarthy’s name was engraved on the marble monument in Judiciary Square among thousands of other officers who have died in the line of duty.

Patty Jo McCarthy noted that Randy Cook, also a New Castle officer, stepped up to escort her over to the wall to see her first glimpse of her late husband’s name there.

She also was presented with plaques — one from the National Law Enforcement Memorial and one from the 2014 Law Enforcement Memorial Run from Philadelphia to Washington, of which McCarthy was one of four honorees.

And she received a metal bracelet bearing McCarthy’s name and the date of his end of watch.

She attended Tuesday night’s candlelight vigil at Judiciary Square, when the roll call of officers was read and thousands of people gathered with lit candles to commemorate the deceased. A blue laser shown through the crowd and over the flags commemorated the Thin Blue Line, which represents police and is used on mourning bands to signify the loss of a fellow officer.

“It was very overwhelming, in a beautiful way,” she said.

More than 20,000 officers attended the memorial observance from the United State and Canada.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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