After witnessing an elderly pedestrian struck down by a truck, a Philadelphia police officer lay down on the scorching road to comfort the dying woman in her final moments. The victim’s family is calling the officer a “guardian angel.”
On July 21, 80-year-old Maryalice McGrath was crossing an intersection in Port Richmond, Philadelphia, when she was hit by an oncoming truck. Maryalice, a lifelong resident of Port Richmond, was on her way home, reports WPVI.
Officer Frank Lynch was driving behind the truck that hit Maryalice and attested that neither the elderly pedestrian nor the truck driver saw the other one coming.
“I immediately looked in my side mirror and I saw Maryalice laying in the crosswalk,” recalled Lynch, who works for the Philadelphia Police Department’s Neighborhood Services Unit. “It’s been over a week now and I still get a little choked. Something that I don’t want to relive again.”
Lynch called for an ambulance but quickly determined that Maryalice was not going to survive. He braved the burning asphalt and lay down in the street next to the elderly woman, offering her what company and comfort he could in her final moments.
The selfless police officer was later treated for burns at the local hospital.
Maryalice was a dedicated member of her local church, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and sang in their adult choir, according to her obituary. Mourners were invited to send flowers to Maryalice’s church, or alternatively, plant a tree in her memory.
Maryalice’s niece, Molly Quinn, expressed gratitude to Officer Lynch for staying with her aunt in her last moments. “She didn’t drive many places,” Molly said, “but she did walk often and she had gone that day to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
“I think he was there for a reason and he was her guardian angel,” she added, “and he went above and beyond the call of duty by just lying in the street next to this poor woman when she needed him.”
But Lynch simply believes it’s his duty. “I’m sure it’s going to take more time for me [to return to the intersection],” Lynch explained, “but I still have a job to do and I’ve got to keep doing that.”
On July 30, Lynch shared a Facebook post. “I’ve been reading everyone’s comments and trying to keep my composure during this ordeal,” he wrote. “It was a horrible thing to happen to such a loving sweet woman.”
“Many of the comments used to describe me was the word hero,” he added. “I was nothing but a compassionate human being who stayed with Maryalice in her remaining time on this Earth … I’d like to take this time and thank ALL of the officers that helped that day … I couldn’t have done what I did without all of their help.”
Finally, Lynch implored the public to have empathy for the “devastated” man who had driven the truck that hit Maryalice. “I do not know his name,” Lynch wrote, “but keep him in your prayers.”
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