By Jonathan Bullington
COOK COUNTY, Ill. — A crowd of nearly 400 people packed a southwest suburban funeral home today to say goodbye to Jim Morrissy, the veteran Oak Forest police officer who died Tuesday in the line of duty.
"It was an amazing sight to see," said Oak Forest firefighter/paramedic Joe Schuringa, who attended today's funeral service.
Police and firefighters from departments across the state made the trip to Robert J. Sheehy & Sons Funeral Home in Orland Park for the service, Schuringa said, some traveling from as far as Kankakee and the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
As Morrissy's casket, draped in an American flag, exited the funeral home to the sound of bagpipers, a sea of first responders stood solemnly in the parking lot with their hands saluting their fallen colleague.
"The salute was to basically show our respect for a man who dedicated his life to helping others and protecting others," said Schuringa, a 17-year veteran member of the department.
Morrissy, 62, died from injuries he suffered when his squad car was struck by another motorist around 2 p.m. Tuesday on Cicero Avenue at 160th Street.
He had been en route to assist another officer in a non-emergency domestic violence call, Oak Forest Police chief Gregory Anderson previously told the Tribune, and his squad car's lights and sirens did not appear to have been activated.
Morrissy's death marked the first line-of-duty fatality in the Oak Forest department's history. The 34-year veteran police officer was called the consummate professional by friends and colleagues.
"He was serious about his job and serious about the residents of this town," Schuringa said.
After leaving the funeral home, a procession of vehicles stretching nearly four miles long made its way to Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleum in Alsip for interment, Schuringa said.
Morrissy moved to Oak Forest as a teenager and, after college and a stint in the military, joined the police department in 1979. He and his wife Janice raised three sons.
"They're a wonderful community family," said Oak Forest Ald. Laura Clemons.
Clemons attended yesterday's wake, which she said also drew police officers from many surrounding communities.
"It was quite the sight to see," she said. "Everybody was celebratory, and talking about how lucky they were to have known the man."
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