Slain officer was committed to changing lives, his father says
In the week and a half since a gunman killed his son during a traffic stop, John Dryer said he has literally felt the impact Officer John "David" Dryer had on the community.
"My hand is sore from people squeezing it, expressing their sorrow that he is gone," John Dryer, 74, said on Tuesday at his family farm in Avella.
Dryer and his wife, JoAnn, left last night to visit relatives in Atlanta, four days after burying their son. During an hourlong interview, the house phone rang at least three times. Dryer said it's been like that all week, with people calling from across the country to offer their condolences.
"He helped so many people we never knew," he said. "He dedicated his life to helping other people."
David Dryer, 46, of Claysville, a veterinarian and part-time East Washington police officer, was fatally shot on Dec. 18 during a traffic stop on Interstate 70 in South Strabane. Officer Robert Caldwell, who provided backup, was shot in the right hand. Police killed the gunman, Eli Franklin Myers III, at his Rostraver home when he came out armed after a 10-hour standoff.
John Dryer recalled his son's life of service.
David Dryer became a volunteer firefighter at 16. He suffered second- and third-degree burns fighting a fire while he was in vet school.
"He just assumed it was his duty," John Dryer said.
When his son told him he wanted to go into law enforcement, Dryer said it was impossible to talk him out of it.
"I said, 'You're a veterinarian, you don't need to risk your life as a police officer,' " John Dryer said. "It was like water off a duck's back. I'll guarantee he helped more people than he ever arrested."
More than 1,000 people attended Dryer's funeral on Friday in Washington. John Dryer said he was touched by what he saw through the dark and gloom as a procession of 750 vehicles drove through town.
"It was absolutely miserable out -- cold, raining," John Dryer said. "Everyone all along the streets had their cars stopped, got out and had a hand over their heart or waving a flag, in the dark in the rain.
"It was incredible."
Supporters established the David Dryer Memorial Fund to provide for the officer's son, Ben, 17, who is autistic. John Dryer said he also wants the money to benefit an autism group.
Ben Dryer has been texting his relatives in the close-knit family several times a day since his father died, said Beth Ann Nijenhuis, David Dryer's sister.
"I still think he's suppressing a lot," she said. "It takes a lot for him to express his feelings. He's texting us five times a day how much he loves us. That breaks your heart."
On the kitchen counter in the Dryer home was a photo of David Dryer and a young Ben grinning at the camera, one of David Dryer running along a beach with a niece and another of him posing in full uniform as a Civil War re-enactor.
"We'll miss him terribly," John Dryer said.
The Western Pennsylvania Benevolent Foundation and others planned to collect donations on behalf of the fund before last night's Penguins game at Consol Energy Center. They also are selling T-shirts commemorating David Dryer at www.officerdryer.com and www.wppbf.org . Donations can be made at any Washington Financial Bank or mailed to the bank at 3616 Washington Road, McMurray PA 15317.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Roethlisberger staging big comeback
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- Steelers notebook: Mitchell to miss beginning of training camp
- Young Hotel residents moved to temporary shelter in Pitcairn
- Steelers won’t negotiate Roethlisberger extension until after season
- $500,000 OK’d as partial settlement in lawsuit from 2012 Pittsburgh flash flood
- Wider Israeli attack threatened ; truce fails
- Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia sued by brother over loan
- Stock market investors going full speed ahead
- After year off, Steelers’ Pouncey ‘ready to go’
- EPA failing to stop natural gas pipeline leaks, internal watchdog says