About 100 police cruisers with lights flashing and horns honking pulled off of Roosevelt Boulevard, onto Southampton Road and then onto Carter Road in Somerton on Tuesday morning. But it wasn’t the world’s biggest car chase.
Rather, dozens of Philadelphia officers and many of their colleagues from throughout the region were on the way to Linda Lorenzo’s house to deliver an early Thanksgiving to her family.
Lorenzo is the wife of slain Philadelphia highway patrolman Brian Lorenzo, who was murdered by a drunken driver on Interstate 95 on July 8, 2012. Hers was one of 11 families of fallen police officers that the caravan of blue planned to visit yesterday and today, bringing meals and heartfelt gratitude for their ultimate sacrifices.
“It’s about never forgetting,” said Steven J. Weiler, vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the city’s police union. “We keep them in our hearts, minds and prayers all the time.”
The FOP, the Philadelphia Police Department and attorney James Binns — a longtime police advocate — have been collaborating on similar holiday tours since 2008. Each year, they visit the homes of fallen police survivors for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“This is the hardest time of the year for them,” Weiler said. “The city and the FOP are making the effort to make the holiday season more comfortable for them. This is the least we could do for the sacrifices they make.”
The caravan planned to visit the families of five slain officers, plus one recently wounded officer on Tuesday, then six more families today. The officers included:
• Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, who was shot and killed while responding to a Port Richmond bank robbery on May 3, 2008. He was 39 and a 12-year veteran.
• Officer Brian Lorenzo, who was struck and killed on his police motorcycle by a drunken driver on Interstate 95 near Cottman Avenue on July 8, 2012. He was 48 and a 23-year veteran.
• Cpl. Christopher Milito of the Delaware River Port Authority Police, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while investigating an accident on the Walt Whitman Bridge. He was 40 and a 16-year veteran.
• Officer Gary Skerski, who was shot and killed while responding to a robbery at Pat’s Cafe in Northwood on May 8, 2006. Skerski was 46 and a 16-year veteran.
• Lt. Joseph Szczerba of the New Castle County Police (Del.) Department, who suffered a fatal stab wound of the neck while struggling with a disorderly conduct suspect on Sept. 16, 2011. He was 44 and an 18-year veteran.
• Trooper Richard Deskis of the Delaware State Police, who is recovering from a gunshot wound of the arm that he suffered on Nov. 20 when an unseen gunman opened fire on him as he investigated a theft in a Wilmington parking lot. Deskis, 44, is a 17-year veteran.
• Officer Moses Walker, who was shot and killed while trying to subdue two armed robbers at 20th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Walker was off-duty at the time, but took police action in response to the threat. He was 40 and a 19-year veteran.
• Officer John Pawlowski, who was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance between an unlicensed cab driver and a gunman at Broad Street and Olney Avenue on Feb. 13, 2009. He was 25 and a five-year veteran.
• Officer Chuck Cassidy, who was shot and killed when he walked up on an armed robbery in progress inside a Dunkin’ Donuts at Broad Street and 66th Avenue on Oct. 31, 2007. He was 54 and a 25-year veteran.
• Sgt. Timothy Simpson, who was killed when an intoxicated driver in a stolen car struck the officer’s police cruiser at Allegheny and Aramingo avenues in Port Richmond. Simpson was on the way to an unrelated robbery call at the time. He was 46 and a 20-year veteran.
• Officer Isabel Nazario, who was killed when a motorist in a stolen SUV, who was fleeing police, struck her police cruiser at 39th and Wallace streets. Nazario was 40 and an 18-year veteran.
• Sgt. Andrew Stackwicz, who suffered a heart attack while on duty in North Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2008, after a foot pursuit. He died while hospitalized for his injuries on Oct. 13, 2008. Stackwicz was 57 and a 26-year veteran.
In addition, the FOP, Philadelphia Police Department and Binns hosted other families of fallen officers for breakfast this morning at Green Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill. ••