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Hundreds mourn VSP Sgt. J. Michael Phillippi

January 16, 2014 | Virginia News

News Image Trooper’s funeral draws police from hours away

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at McCabe Memorial Baptist Church in Martinsville to pay their respects at the funeral of Virginia State Police Sgt. James Michael Phillippi.

Phillippi died on duty early Saturday as the result of a medical condition. His unmarked police car ran off the road that morning on Virginia 57, although the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke said his death was the result of the medical condition and not due to any injuries sustained in the accident.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe traveled to Martinsville to attend the funeral. According to Corinne Geller, public relations manager with the Virginia State Police, McAuliffe presented Phillippi’s wife, Peggy Phillippi, with a Virginia flag flown over the state capitol in Richmond.

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Local law enforcement officials, along with state police and highway patrol officers from as far as Tennessee and Delaware, arrived for the funeral, all dressed in uniform. Phillippi’s family requested that no media be present during the service.

Geller said the church was full during the service, with many law enforcement officers lined up against the back wall.

“You had law enforcement from all throughout the area, as well as fire and rescue squad personnel,” she said. “There was tremendous representation from throughout the region.”

Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri recalled Phillippi as a mentor figure.

“When I was a young trooper, I used to come down here all the time to work the Martinsville races with him,” Carpentieri said. “He made it more enjoyable. It was a long day, about a 16-hour day. He took care of us while we were here.”

Added Carpentieri, “He’s going to be sorely missed, not just by our department, but by members of the community. It’s going to be hard, but you have to move forward. Today is all about honoring his memory and reflecting on his 42-year career with the state police.”

Interim Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady described the funeral service as “an excellent tribute to a great man.”

“He was such an icon with the state police and in Martinsville and Henry County,” Cassady said.  ...

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