STEUBENVILLE - It has been nearly 40 years since two police officers died while on duty in the city.
But retired Police Sgt. Bob Spence still remembers the day in June when Patrolmen Leonard Lamatrice and Thomas McGough were fatally injured investigating a gasoline tanker crash on Stoney Hollow Boulevard (now University Boulevard).
"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. Capt. Murray told me it was bad and I came home immediately," Spence explained before the annual Police Memorial service started Friday morning at Historic Fort Steuben.
SALUTE — Steubenville Police Patrolmen Jim Marquis and Eric Hart, from left, and Sgt. Sam Boniey, Chief Bill McCafferty and Toronto Police Chief Randy Henry salute during the raising of the American flag at the annual Police Memorial ceremony held Friday morning at Historic Fort Steuben.
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.
Retired Herald-Star reporter Bob Sohovich later described an emotional scene at the police department.
"I went to the Steubenville police department and there was a lot of confusion as to what happened. Officers Lamatrice and McGough believed the truck driver was still in the cab of his rig and tried to rescue him when they were caught in the sudden fire. The investigators told me they weren't sure if the heat from the police car engine ignited the flames or it came from a radio transmission that sparked the fire," Sohovich would recall years later.
Both officers were transported to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Lamatrice with burns over 60 percent of his body and McGough suffering from burns over 75 percent of his body.
Spence also remembered Lt. Michael Maguschak Sr., a Mingo Junction police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1970.
"A group of us were supposed to go out to a New Year's Eve party and we were waiting for Mike to talk about our plans. That's when we heard he had been shot," said Spence.
Maguschak was investigating a burglary on Dec. 30, 1970, when he was fatally shot by Donald Nickerson.
They were among the nine area police officers remembered Friday at the Historic Fort Steuben flag pole during the annual police memorial service.
"Leo Lanaghan and I started the local service after President Kennedy established the national Police Memorial Week. Back then we set up at Fourth and Market streets," Spence said.
He was joined by retired Steubenville Police Capt. Leon Stinson and retired Toronto Police Capt. Emmett Mosti as officers from Steubenville, Toronto and Wintersville lined up to remember their fallen brothers in blue.
Shawn Scott, a Steubenville police officer and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1 chaplain, read the names of the six Steubenville officers, two Mingo Junction officers and one Toronto police officer killed in the line of duty during the past 104 years.
"Patrolman John L. McDonald, Steubenville Police Department. End of Watch Jan. 8, 1908.
"Patrolman Lafayette Mercer, Steubenville Police Department. End of watch July 2, 1914.
"Patrolman William J. Snider, Mingo Junction Police Department. End of watch Jan. 26, 1923.
"Patrolman Owen Burns, Steubenville Police Department. End of Watch Nov.7, 1926.
"Lt. Scott Roe, Steubenville Police Department. End of watch April 12, 1928.
"Lt. Michael J. Maguschak Sr., Mingo Junction Police Department. End of watch Dec. 30, 1970.
"Patrolman Leonard Lamatrice, Steubenville Police Department. End of watch July 21, 1972.
"Patrolman Thomas McGough, Steubenville Police Department. End of watch Aug. 6, 1972.
"Ralph Benton Miller Sr., Toronto Police Department. End of watch March 26, 1978."
"This ceremony reminds all of us to always be ready. Any event can get pretty serious in moments even in a smaller community like Toronto," noted Toronto Police Chief Randy Henry.
"It is an honor to remember the guys who passed away in the line of duty. Unfortunately I have attended several police officer funerals. It is never easy," observed Steubenville Police Officer James Marquis, who also serves as presidents of F.O.P. Lodge No. One.
For Steubenville Patrolman Eric Hart, the police memorial day and Blue Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church he and his wife, Alexandra, organize every year, "it is all about honoring those who died while on duty and to remember how senseless each tragedy was."
Following a short prayer the police officers and attendees were encouraged by Scott to, "walk away in silence and remember those who died doing their job."