Community puts flags in yards to honor Willoughby police officer Jason Gresko

PAINSVILLE, Ohio - A worn sign that reads "Thank you Officer Gresko. Willoughby police for your service. RIP" now welcomes those to the Heisley Park neighborhood of Painesville.

The sign is surrounded by flags placed in the ground by neighbors who wanted to show their support to Jason Gresko's family.

"It's got to be hard," said Susie Walters, who delivers their mail. "It's not like he went to Afghanistan or Iran. He's here and something like this happens."

Patrolman Gresko died Friday after his vehicle made contact with a truck, then struck a tree on Harmony Lane. Police have not released many details as to what led up to the crash.

During a news conference on Sunday, Willoughby Police Chief Jack Beckwith said the driver of the other vehicle was given a sobriety test. When asked if the driver could have been drunk the chief responded, "There were no obvious indications.

"We are trying to line the flags from his street going all the way out of the development," said Patricia Jacobson. Jacobson and another officer who live in the neighborhood used Facebook to connect with residents and encouraged them to put flags in the yards as a show of support to the family.

"It's a community coming together," said part-time Mentor-on-the-Lake officer Robert Higginbotham. "We really want to show the community and the people who come here that we care about the people who live here."

In light of Gresko's death, Higginbotham said he began to think about his own mortality.

"For all of us who are out there everyday and put our lives on the line, no matter what community you live in, there's always a chance you won't come home," Higginbotham said.

"When I saw the flags I said ‘This is a good community to live in. They care about one another,'" Walters said.

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