Woman joins ranks of fallen heroes Slain crossing guard honored at ceremony


Nancy Christine Hardesty, an Edgewater child-care provider and crossing guard, was remembered yesterday at a Timonium ceremony honoring public safety workers killed in the line of duty as "the rock" of her family.

The 13th annual Fallen Heroes Day at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum also honored Tfc. Raymond Gerard Armstead Jr., killed in a traffic accident while serving out of the Forestville Barracks, and Baltimore police Lt. Owen Eugene Sweeney, Jr., whose death shocked the city when a bullet fired through a door took his life.

With a formal honor guard with horses and a marching band, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., and former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley spoke at an emotional afternoon ceremony. A flag waved from the ladders of two firetrucks under a gray and rainy sky.

"They gave their best to make us safe, and it cost them their lives," said Cardin.

"Today we recognize and thank those who have given all there is," Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan said.

Twenty-five people have been honored since the Fallen Heroes tradition began in 1983 -- most of them Baltimore City, Baltimore County and state police officers, Baltimore firefighters or members of volunteer fire companies.

Hardesty was the first woman.

"The pain will never go away," Dianna Gleason, 32, said of her mother's death. Hardesty, 51, was fatally injured when she was struck by a car outside the complex of Southern Senior High School and Central Middle School in Edgewater on Dec. 22.

"My mother was my best friend," Gleason said after the ceremony, holding back tears. "She was the rock of the family. She held the whole family together."

Besides working as a crossing guard employed by Anne Arundel County Police Department, Hardesty ran a child care center from her Edgewater home for 18 years and took care of several grandchildren most days.

Every year in August, Gleason said, the family went on a vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Del. Most Sundays. her mother attended services at Mayo United Methodist Church.

Wearing an angel pendant, another daughter, Vicki Hook, 29, said of the ceremony, "This helps to remember. Everybody is remembering her again."

Armstead, 27, was fatally injured March 25 on Baltimore-Washington Parkway when he was trying to help motorists on the shoulder. His police cruiser rear-ended a car that stopped short in front of him, said Elvera Pina, 28, his fiance. The impact ruptured his heart, according to a physician who treated him.

The couple's married life was about to begin -- yesterday was the date for the bridal shower, and they had planned to wed July 11, according to Pina, mother of their two sons, Raymond, 4, and Arcel, who turns 3 on Monday.

Sweeney, who, at 47, was shot and killed with a shotgun fired from behind a closed door May 7, 1997, was the 97th Baltimore police officer to be killed since 1870.

Pub Date: 5/02/98

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