Professionalism of officers who were all clearly hurting immense
Published 11/02/2013 | 04:20
Just hours after a stolen Toyota Land Cruiser ran a red light and ploughed into an armoured police car as Philippa Reynolds and her two colleagues were on a routine patrol, forensic officers clad head to toe in white meticulously picked their way through the bits of broken glass and debris at the scene.
The wreckage there clearly depicted the speed and force of the impact that claimed the life of the young officer described by her district commander as "bubbly, enthusiastic and beautiful".
Both vehicles were badly crumpled, and on Saturday afternoon were still sitting where they came to rest at the junction known locally as Dales Corner, like two pieces of silver foil, balled up and discarded.
On a Saturday morning, the junction between Limavady Road, Glendermott Road and Clooney Terrace is one of the busiest in Londonderry as drivers from the Waterside and beyond make their way into the city centre – but at the weekend it was so very different.
A quiet stillness hung in the air as the forensic team carefully and professionally went about their business of measuring, marking and assessing the debris that portrayed the horrific collision that robbed their colleague of her future.
At the cordon nearest the scene, a lone officer kept pedestrians at bay, but many of those who arrived had come to pay their respects.
People from the neighbouring streets made their way down, heads bowed as if in silent prayer for Philippa Reynolds, and the two officers who were also hurt in the collision.
In what was a minor miracle, their lives were spared after the sudden impact with the large and powerful stolen four-wheel drive vehicle.
One woman who came out of her house along Bonds Street said it was just awful that such a young officer had died.
She added: "Whoever she was, she was someone's daughter and how horrible it must have been for them to get that news.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare and my thoughts are with her family now, but also with the police officers who have to try and find out what happened, even though they must be hurting too."
Looking at the faces of the officers posted around the fatal scene, it was patently clear that they were indeed hurting, with some visibly still shocked at what had happened.
Despite this, they were doing their job, diverting the traffic and politely advising motorists to seek an alternative route.
The PSNI district commander has praised his officers for their professionalism in the face of such a tragedy – and that professionalism was on public display on Saturday.