Community Helps Family of Fallen Officer
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — A community came together Sunday to assist the young family of a police officer killed in the line of duty.
Hundreds of people packed the Willoughby Brewing Company for a benefit fundraiser for fallen Willoughby police officer Jason Gresko.
Dinners and memorial T-shirts were sold, and monies were raised from dozens of raffle basket donations.
Gresko leaves behind a wife and a 2-year-old daughter.
“Amazing,” said his widow, Sandra Gresko. “The support is overwhelming in a good way.”
Gresko was killed on the way to assist another officer. He clipped a truck that police say turned into his path. He avoided hitting the vehicle on full impact. No one in the truck was hurt. But, his cruiser went out of control and hit a tree, killing him.
“We see him as a hero,” said his brother, Nick Gresko. “You really see an officer trying to avoid a car and avoid an accident and ultimately sacrifice his own life.”
He said his brother would want to be remembered not only as an officer, but someone who was out there saving lives.
Fellow Willoughby Police Officer Matthew Tartagili said Gresko loved being a police officer.
“He was the definition of what every community wants in a police officer in their city,” said Tartagili.
The Willoughby Brewing Company anticipated several hundred people turned out, and had to adjust when about 2,000 came to support the fundraiser.
“During a tough time, we all get together and get each other’s back and help each other out,” said Willoughby Brewing Company owner Jeremy Van Horn. “That’s what this is all about. Helping out someone who needs it.”
Gresko’s death was a loss to two departments.
Not only was he a part-time Willoughby police officer, but he worked full-time for the Cleveland Clinic Police Force.
“He had three loves. Police work. His brother’s football and his two girls — his wife and his daughter. And, that’s what drove him,” said Cleveland Clinic Police Officer Ryan Ball
One hundred percent of the day’s proceeds, including $870 raised by the students of the Mater Dei Academy in Wickliffe, will do directly to Gresko’s wife and daughter, Olivia Mae.
“There are so many people that we would like to thank — The communities, the police officers, the police officers’ wives, the brewing company for having this benefit. It’s really kept up together and very appreciative. Thank you so much,” said Sandra Gresko.
For more on Gresko’s accident, click here.