Highway dedicated to fallen heroes

Pub­lic of­fi­cials, led by state Sen. Mike Stack, re-ded­ic­ated a 12-mile stretch of I-95 in memory of two fallen Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficers.

  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (left) and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey attended the ceremony. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Police officers attend the re-dedication ceremony to Officers Brian Lorenzo and Charles P. O’Hanlon. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • A sign commemorating fallen officers Brian Lorenzo and Charles P. O’Hanlon is unveiled at an Aug. 6 re-dedication ceremony. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Words of gratitude: Linda Lorenzo (center) expresses her thanks to Philadelphia for naming a stretch of I-95 after her late husband, Officer Brian Lorenzo. The section was named for Lorenzo and another fallen officer, Charles P. O’Hanlon. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Words of gratitude: Officer Brian Lorenzo’s 5-year-old son, Dominic, holds up a memorial sign for the stretch of I-95 named in his father’s honor. Brian Lorenzo was killed in an accident on the highway in 2012. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Every single time Mat­thew O’Han­lon drives past a cer­tain point on In­ter­state 95, he thinks of his fath­er, a Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficer who per­ished there in a fiery on-duty crash 28 years ago.

The spot is near the Bridge Street in­ter­change.

Now, the thou­sands of mo­tor­ists who tra­verse that cor­ridor each day can also be re­minded of Of­ficer Charles P. O’Han­lon as well as Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo, who died along the same high­way last year when an al­leged drunk­en, wrong-way driver ran down his po­lice mo­tor­cycle.

Pub­lic of­fi­cials led by state Sen. Mike Stack on Aug. 6 re-ded­ic­ated a 12-mile stretch of I-95 in memory of both O’Han­lon and Lorenzo, who were mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia Po­lice High­way Patrol and on the unit’s elite Mo­tor­cycle Drill Team, al­though they nev­er served to­geth­er.

“You are an un­be­liev­able ex­ample of sac­ri­fice, com­mit­ment, cour­age and love. For us to be able to pass this le­gis­la­tion …, it is something we are honored to do,” Stack said as he ad­dressed both fam­il­ies dur­ing a ce­re­mony next to the high­way.

Last year, the state le­gis­lature passed a bill that re­named I-95 between mile mark­er 23 (near Al­legheny Av­en­ue) and mile mark­er 35 (near Academy Road) in memory of the two of­ficers. Stack shep­her­ded the le­gis­la­tion, which was signed in­to law in Oc­to­ber. Oth­er North­east law­makers sup­por­ted the ini­ti­at­ive, in­clud­ing state Rep. Brendan Boyle, ac­cord­ing to his press sec­ret­ary Mark Lad­ley.

Oth­er of­fi­cials in at­tend­ance in­cluded May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, Deputy May­or Ever­ett Gil­lis­on, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey, Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 Pres­id­ent John McNesby, an aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, mem­bers of the Phil­adelphia High­way Patrol and Pennsylvania State Po­lice Troop­ers who now patrol the in­ter­state.

Signs will be erec­ted at both ends of the high­way cor­ridor identi­fy­ing it as the “Of­ficers O’Han­lon and Lorenzo Me­mori­al High­way.”

“We are so honored that words es­cape me to say how we feel,” said Mat­thew O’Han­lon, who like all three of his broth­ers fol­lowed his fath­er’s foot­steps in­to the po­lice de­part­ment. “In this state, this city, this po­lice de­part­ment and this [Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice], we know our her­oes will nev­er be for­got­ten.”

Charles O’Han­lon lived with his four sons and wife, Eliza­beth, in Fox Chase. He was 40 years old and a 19-year po­lice vet­er­an on Nov. 13, 1985, when he stopped a van for a traffic vi­ol­a­tion on north­bound I-95 near Bridge Street. After the of­ficer ex­ited his po­lice car, a north­bound tract­or-trail­er car­ry­ing haz­ard­ous ma­ter­i­als struck the van, ig­nit­ing a fire and pin­ning O’Han­lon in the wreck.

Lorenzo died on Ju­ly 8, 2012, on the north­bound side of the in­ter­state just be­fore the Cottman Av­en­ue exit. An al­leged drunk­en driver had entered the north­bound lanes trav­el­ing in a south­bound dir­ec­tion and struck the of­ficer head-on. Lorenzo was headed home to Somer­ton after a late-night shift. He was in full uni­form and had just cau­tioned an­oth­er mo­tor­ist to stop speed­ing.

Lorenzo was 48 years old and a 23-year po­lice vet­er­an. The ac­cused drunk­en driver is await­ing tri­al on hom­icide charges.

Lorenzo’s wife, Linda, and their chil­dren, Bri­an, Marissa and Domin­ic, all at­ten­ded the ce­re­mony, as did Bri­an Lorenzo’s broth­er, Manny, who is also a po­lice of­ficer, and their moth­er.

“We are honored by what you do for us,” Linda Lorenzo said.

“There are two great fam­il­ies here today and a lot of of­ficers who won’t for­get,” McNesby said. “Both Chuck and Bri­an gave their lives pro­tect­ing the road­way be­hind us.”

“They gave their lives in provid­ing safety to the cit­izens of the city,” Nut­ter said.

The re-ded­ic­a­tion of state-run high­ways is not unique in North­east Phil­adelphia. A por­tion of Roosevelt Boulevard is named in memory of slain Of­ficer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, a por­tion of Cottman Av­en­ue west of Al­gon Av­en­ue was named in memory of slain Sgt. Steph­en Liczb­in­ski. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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