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Arguably one of the most heartbreaking local stories this year was the death of Plymouth Township police officer Brad Fox, a resident of New Hanover, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, a loving husband to a pregnant wife and the father to a young girl.
During the early evening of Sept. 13, Fox, 34, responded to a three-vehicle accident in Plymouth Township when Andrew Charles Thomas, 44, tried driving through traffic in a stolen Infiniti SUV. Fox along with other officers, pursued Thomas, who crashed into a Chrysler sedan on Ernest Station Road and ditched the vehicle, fleeing on foot.
Fox, along with his K-9 partner, Nick, pursued Thomas into an industrial area near the Schuylkill River Trail after calling for backup.
At some point, Thomas ambushed Fox from some brush above him, firing four times.
Struck once in the head, Fox was killed. Nick suffered a graze wound.
Thomas was eventually discovered dead with two wounds. The Montgoemry County Coroner’s Office determined his death a suicide.
The next day, which would have been Fox’s 35th birthday, hundreds attended a vigil in Fox’s New Hanover neighborhood.
It’s time to be still from a busy day,” the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Salios, chaplain for the Plymouth Townshi Police, said.
Those gathered, many of them young families like Fox’s, lit candles and held them to the sky in honor of the fallen officer. A helicopter, its searchlight blazing, flew low over the neighborhood in salute.
“We are one family,” Chief Joseph Lawrence, of the Plymouth Township Police, said as the vigil concluded.
Those in the police community who knew Fox spoke of him glowingly.
“Brad Fox was the real deal,” said Frank Willar, director of the Municipal Police Academy of Montgomery County Community College, where Fox graduated, the same day as the vigil.
Held Sept. 19 at Epiphany of Our Lord Church in Plymouth Meeting, Fox’s funeral was attended by thousands of police officers, some coming from as far away as Chicago and Maine.
Governor Tom Corbett, who had previously ordered all state flags to fly at half-staff until sundown after Fox’s funeral, was in attendance at the funeral.
A television screen was positioned outside the church so that the large overflow crowd of police and other mourners could see and hear the “life celebration.”
In its most emotional moment, a letter Fox’s wife, Lynsay, wrote to him was read aloud by her sister, Brittany Mattozzi.
““You will always be the rock of our household. You have given me a home surrounded by loving neighbors. Please know I am in good hands,” Lynsay’s letter ended. “I love you more than I can tell you. You are a true hero. I love you Brad.”
Fox was laid to rest in a Bucks County cemetery following the Mass.
The community rallied to remember Fox and support his family following the tragic incident.
A hockey game benefitting Fox’s family that will likely become an annual event was played in October by Fox’s old ice hockey teammates, Several fundraisers popped up quickly in the week following the officer’s death.
Finally, in November, Nick, fully recovered from his wounds, retired and was given to Fox’s family.
“I’m just glad to have him home officially. It’s a small piece of Brad that we now have home with us personally,” said Lynsay Fox. “I know he meant a lot to Kadence (Fox’s daughter) and to see the bond that they have is irreplaceable.”
At that Plymouth Township Council meeting when Nick was formally handed over, Lynsay also confirmed that her and Brad’s baby will be a boy and “a junior.”