A 23-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department who earned five commendations of merit and was last year awarded a state proclamation for outstanding service was killed early yesterday morning by an alleged drunk driver.
Police said Highway Patrol Officer Brian Lorenzo, 48, was in full uniform when he was traveling home from work on Interstate 95.
A gray Audi driving against traffic – southbound in the highway's northbound lanes – allegedly struck Lorenzo's department-issued motorcycle around 3:15 a.m. near the Cottman Avenue exit in Northeast Philadelphia.
Lorenzo died on the scene. "It just appears that Officer Lorenzo had absolutely no chance to evade this male and it's just a sad, sad day for us in the Philadelphia Police Department," Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross said early yesterday.
The driver of the Audi, John Leck Jr., 48, of Levittown, is in police custody at Aria-Torresdale Hospital. "'Reckless' is an understatement when you're talking about traveling in the wrong direction and all indications are that he was under the influence," Ross said.
President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 John McNesby echoed the sentiment. "Obviously, it's still early, but from what I'm gathering, he was highly intoxicated," he said of the driver. "He entered the highway on 95 going the wrong way – he went left in right lane – at a high rate speed. Officer Lorenzo had no time to react at all."
Police said Leck faces charges of homicide by vehicle, DUI and related offenses.
A hearse flanked by highway patrol motorcycles transported Lorenzo's body from the medical examiner's office to a funeral home following an autopsy yesterday afternoon.
Lorenzo, who was honored for his courage and commitment to the community at state Sen. Shirley Kitchen's 14th annual appreciation banquet last summer, also received five commendations during his career and several commendatory letters.
"He's a good cop, a good family guy," McNesby said. "He's been around a while in probably one of the most elite units in the police department. ... It's just a tragic shame." He asked Philadelphians to keep the police department in their prayers.
Lorenzo was a member and instructor of the Highway Patrol Unit's Motorcycle Drill Team, which performs each year at the Hero Thrill Show to raise college tuition money for children of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. The event has generated over $2 million to help more than 800 family members since 2001.
Lorenzo is survived by his wife of 25 years, who he met while attending
Frankford High School, and three children, including one four-year-old. His brother is a Philadelphia
police officer of nearly 12 years who works in the 25th District, where
Lorenzo also served earlier in his career.
Mayor Michael Nutter visited Lorenzo's family yesterday afternoon, asked that the Philadelphia Phillies
observe a moment of silence before the day's game and ordered all city flags
to be flown at half-staff for the next month.
"As citizens of
this great city, we will never forget the sacrifice that our police
officers make every day," Nutter said in a statement. "Nor will we
forget Brian Lorenzo, a decorated officer who exemplified the very best
qualities of law enforcement."