KENT ISLAND — On Sunday, May 2, shortly after 3 p.m., a hearse carrying the body of Corporal Keith Heacook of the Delmar Police Department, made its way along Route 50, eastbound, as the honor guard procession moved through traffic. Police officers from across the Eastern Shore lined Route 50, parking their cars on the far right shoulder of the highway. The officers stood in front of their vehicles, together saluting as the procession passed by.
Heacook was a 22-year veteran of the Delmar Police Department. He responded at 5 a.m. Monday, April 25, to a reported domestic argument in the town of Delmar. He was assaulted upon arriving on the scene, suffered severe head injuries and was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Traffic along Route 50, westbound, was already backed-up from the Bay Bridge to the Kent Narrows overpass from weekend travelers heading home. The gathering of what appeared to be more than 100 police cars with lights flashing slowed the traffic down even more. Many motorists traveling in both directions waved to the police officers and honked their horns in support, but unless their car radios informed them what was happening, those motorists probably didn’t know what was going on.
After the procession passed by, one unidentified woman, said, “That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, the outpouring of public support for our police officers, and I’ve lived here for the past 40-years.” The woman appeared to be emotionally shaken at what she had witnessed, as did many others who stopped in the area parking lots to view the events transpiring.
As the police were gathering along the highway, another woman with her husband, stopped and asked why. When she was told that the local police were gathering to honor a police officer who had died in the line of duty earlier in the week, she and her husband stayed to observe the procession. Afterwards, the woman, who appeared to be in her 50s, was seen kneeling in the parking lot with her head bowed as if she was crying. Many others gathered in the parking lots near Route 50 from where the Kent Island Food Lion is located all the way down past Safeway. Many appeared tearful.
Still others expressed support for police, as nationally, for the past year, police around the nation have been verbally under fire for incidences that have happened with people being killed by police. Said one man, “They have the toughest job there is. I’m sure that the great majority of police are good and decent people who are trying their best to serve and protect our communities.”
Among those honoring the fallen officer, members of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department staged their ladder truck with a huge American flag hoisted above the Route 8 overpass as the hearse carrying Heacook traveled across the Bay Bridge. Numerous fire trucks were also parked atop the Route 8 overpass with emergency lights flashing.
Other county volunteer fire departments also participated, including United Communities, Grasonville, Queenstown, Goodwill, and Sudlersville.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann was among the officers lined-up along Route 50 saluting. He had his young daughter, Alexandria, 3, with him, holding her hand. Afterwards, Hofmann said, “I am beyond words. I just want to thank our entire community for their support of law enforcement as Delmar Police Officer. Corporal Heacook, traveled through our county to his final resting place. We have so much appreciation for our emergency services, fire companies, their staff, and our community members, who put your trust and support in law enforcement.”
The Town of Delmar is located in Wicomico county, just north of the Salisbury, nestled along the Delaware-Maryland state line.
Officer Heacook is survived by his wife and 12-year old son.
The Corporal Keith Heacook Memorial Scholarship has been established at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. The endowment will award a scholarship each year to a Delmar High School graduate who will pursue a career in public service.
“Keith’s service and sacrifice will be honored year after year, serving as a reminder of his legacy,” says Julie Parrish, who helped establish the scholarship fund. “We hope the scholarship will inspire young men and women to serve their community, as Keith faithfully served his.”
Corporal Heacook served the Delmar Police Department for 22 years in Delaware and Maryland. He was inspired to become a police officer after he was rescued from a serious car accident by police. In his final act of service, Corporal Heacook ensured others would live by donating his organs.
To make a tax-deductible contribution to the scholarship fund visit CFES.org/donate and select “Corporal Keith Heacook Memorial Scholarship” in the drop-down menu. The scholarship fund is managed by the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.
Other fundraisers to benefit a trust set up for Corporal Keith Heacook’s 12-year-old son have been created. Contributions to the trust can be made at the Bank of Delmarva or through GiveSendGo.com/Keith.