| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Derry Borough man gives back to police program that aided his family

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Elmer Smart holds a photo of his 7-year-old daughter, Mindy, at his home in Derry. Smart lost his girlfriend and son when they were struck by a train in Derry in 2009. Smart has donated $1,000 to Pennsylvania State Trooper Stephen Limani’s program to help needy children.

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Want to help?

To donate to Shop With A Cop, visit or contact Limani at 724-832-6485 or

Daily Photo Galleries

By Jennifer Reeger
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Three years ago, Elmer Smart didn't know how he would give his two young daughters a merry Christmas.

Smart had become a single dad to Mindy, now 7, and Elisha, now 4, who witnessed the horrific deaths of their mother and brother when they were struck by a train while crossing railroad tracks in Derry Borough.

In those dark days, Smart was lent a helping hand by state police Trooper Stephen Limani and his Shop With A Cop program, which provided each of the girls with $50 Wal-Mart gift cards to buy Christmas presents.

Smart never forgot the gesture, and wanting to give back, he recently donated $1,000 to Shop With A Cop.

“I figured we're in a position now to donate back, me and my girls, so that's what we're doing,” said Smart, 47, of Derry. “It helped us out a good bit that year. I didn't know how I was going to do (Christmas) that year.”

Smart said he talked with both girls before making the donation. He said Mindy fondly remembers going shopping with the police officers less than two months after the deaths of her mother, Sheila Singer, 37, and brother, John Smart, 2.

Singer and all three children were attempting to cross the train tracks when John's stroller got caught. Singer got the two girls off the tracks, but a train struck and killed her and John as she tried to free the stroller.

Earlier this year, Smart received a settlement from Norfolk Southern Railway Co. for a wrongful death claim he brought against the company. He declined to comment on the settlement.

Smart and his daughters still live across Second Street from the tracks — a constant reminder of the accident.

“Me and my oldest, we talk about it, because there's no use holding it in,” Smart said.

Elisha still asks where her mom is from time to time, he said.

“We're doing the best we can do,” he said. “It's hard being a single parent, but I'm doing it.”

Limani said he was shocked by how much Smart donated to Shop With A Cop, which pairs police officers with underprivileged children or those who have been victims of a tragedy to go shopping for Christmas.

This year, children will receive a $100 Wal-Mart gift card and winter outerwear during the shopping events.

Limani said Smart's donation will help 10 children this Christmas.

“He gave me 10 times the generosity I showed him,” Limani said of Smart.

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
  2. Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
  3. Despite injuries, Penn State’s Nelson ‘thankful’
  4. Four helicopters respond to Route 51 crash in Rostraver
  5. LB Kwiatkoski sentimental about WVU traditions entering final home game
  6. Miami (Fla.) gets prepared to take on ‘physical’ Pitt team
  7. School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
  8. Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices
  9. France honors attack victims in city subdued by mourning
  10. Pittsburgh police deliver 2,500 Thanksgiving meals through program
  11. Penguins 4th line is showing promise