Northeast Times

Lorenzo — ‘He had heart of gold’

  • A memorial honoring Lorenzo adorns the wall of their station at 660 E. Erie Ave. in Juniata. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • Not forgotten: Highway Patrol officers often reflect on the loss of colleague Brian Lorenzo. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Un­der­neath his para­mil­it­ary-style Phil­adelphia High­way Patrol uni­form and his aus­tere pro­fes­sion­al per­sona, Of­ficer Bri­an Lorenzo was pre­par­ing to sur­render to his warm, fuzzy side.

Hav­ing ac­com­plished much dur­ing his 23-year po­lice ca­reer, Lorenzo told close friends and col­leagues about re­tir­ing to a life of leis­ure sur­roun­ded by his wife and chil­dren.

“He talked about how much he loved his kids. He was in his 40s like me and he used to talk about go­ing home and play­ing with the little one, play­ing games with him and go­ing places. … One of the things he said he was look­ing for­ward to was be­ing a grand­fath­er and play­ing with his grandkids,” Of­ficer Daniel Mar­tinez told the North­east Times dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view.

One year after Lorenzo’s death in a Ju­ly 8, 2012, crash with a drunk driver on In­ter­state 95, mem­bers of his old unit still find it hard to be­lieve that someone with so much joy and good­will nev­er got to ful­fill his dream.

Mem­bers of the Lorenzo fam­ily did not wish to con­duct news me­dia in­ter­views, ac­cord­ing to their at­tor­ney, James Binns. The of­ficer was 48 years old and sur­vived by his wife, Linda, two adult chil­dren and a 4-year-old son. But Lorenzo’s fel­low of­ficers, when asked to speak about him in ad­vance of the an­niversary of his death, said he re­mains a con­stant pres­ence in their thoughts.

“I still walk in here every day ex­pect­ing to see him sit­ting in our op­er­a­tions room,” said Lt. Bill Lynch, Lorenzo’s su­per­visor in the High­way unit. “This year was really hard with the [mo­tor­cycle] Drill Team, ex­pect­ing him to be up front.”

Lorenzo’s ex­em­plary pro­fes­sion­al re­cord has been well-doc­u­mented. After start­ing his ca­reer in patrol dis­tricts, not­ably the 25th, he earned a trans­fer to the pres­ti­gi­ous High­way Patrol in Decem­ber 1997 along with 86 oth­er cops. Twelve of those still work in the unit.

Mem­bers are known for their dis­tinct­ive shiny black uni­form coats and rid­ing boots and per­haps no­tori­ous for their “al­pha male” per­son­al­it­ies, ac­cord­ing to Of­ficer Manny Perez, but Lorenzo tran­scen­ded the ste­reo­type while be­com­ing a lead­er among the group.

He was so pro­fi­cient on the unit’s em­blem­at­ic Har­ley-Dav­id­son mo­tor­cycles that it be­came his job to train the oth­ers how to ride. And he led the Drill Team, which is the star at­trac­tion at the city’s an­nu­al Hero Thrill Show.

“You hear every­body al­ways say something nice about some­body who passed on,” Perez said. “But whatever you say good about [Lorenzo] doesn’t say how good a man he really was. The words don’t ex­ist. He had a heart of gold.”

Know­ing the ever-present danger of their jobs, high­way of­ficers were shocked to hear of his death and its seem­ingly ran­dom cir­cum­stances. Lorenzo was rid­ing his mo­tor­cycle home on In­ter­state 95 after a shift when a mo­tor­ist entered the high­way in the wrong dir­ec­tion and struck the of­ficer head-on near Cottman Av­en­ue.

Lorenzo’s was clas­si­fied as a line-of-duty death -— he was in uni­form and op­er­at­ing a po­lice vehicle. He was the first Phil­adelphia cop killed on duty in more than three years. His death oc­curred al­most four years after an­oth­er High­way cop, Patrick Mc­Don­ald, was shot and killed by a wanted pris­on pa­rolee.

“You can nev­er be pre­pared to hear that. Pat Mc­Don­ald and Bri­an were both from our [squad],” said Sgt. Maurice Rollins. “In that in­stance, the squad is dev­ast­ated. It’s one of those things you nev­er for­get where you were.” ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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