Police memorial service set for Friday

STEUBENVILLE – Police Officer Shawn Scott has issued a call for city residents to join area police officers Friday for the annual Peace Officers Memorial service.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to show support for our police officers. We have not had a police department line of duty fatality since 1972. And, I hope and pray we never have another in the line of duty death. But as recently as a couple of weeks ago we saw an incident where two of our officers were engaged in a gun battle with a man accused of armed robbery. One or both of the officers could have been killed or injured very easily,” explained Scott.

The memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. at the Historic Fort Steuben flag pole.

Retired Steubenville Police Sgt. Bob Spence remembers the two police officers who died in 1972.

“I worked with those two guys, but I was on vacation in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. I received a phone call from my father-in-law about the accident and called the police station. Captain Murray told me it was bad and I came home immediately,” Spence explained.

According to the Herald-Star story from June 1972, a gasoline tanker truck driver was headed east on Stoney Hollow Boulevard when he felt his brakes, “go soft.”

Willie Culler was able to escape his rig unharmed. But the first two police officers to arrive at the scene weren’t so lucky. The gasoline ignited and both men were caught in the flames.

Patrolmen?Leonard Lamatrice and Thomas McGough were transported to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Lamatrice with burns to more than 60 percent of his body and McGough suffering from burns to more than 75 percent of his body. They would die within days of the incident.

Spence also remembered Lt. Michael Maguschak Sr., a Mingo Junction police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1970.

Maguschak was investigating a burglary on Dec. 30, 1970, when he was fatally shot by Donald Nickerson.

They will be among the nine area police officers to be remembered Friday morning.

Scott said he would like to see area residents join the police for the ceremony.

“It would also be nice to see our school kids take a short field trip to honor the fallen police officers.

“City Manager Cathy Davison will sing the national anthem, and the services will be concluded with the singing of ‘Amazing Grace’. All of our area law enforcement and their families are invited and encouraged to attend the event to honor those who have gone before us,” Scott stated.

“I would also like to see every American flag in the city lowered to half staff for the day as a sign of respect for our fallen police officers from Steubenville, Mingo Junction and Toronto,” added Scott.