Shea 5K to remember fallen state trooper

| 19 Sep 2017 | 05:14

By Laurie Gordon
— On Sunday, July 18, 2004 at approximately 2 AM, Kittatinny Regional High School graduate Corporal Christopher M. Shea was returning home from a late overtime job on his day off as a Delaware State Trooper. The job was a routine criminal drop-off to the corrections facility in Delaware, north of Lewes.
His brother, Pat, said, “It was something he figured was a quick few hours of work, no problem. What he didn't expect to encounter was the unthinkable - a driver on the wrong side of the highway.”
Chris was traveling southbound on State Route 1 just outside Milford, DE. The other vehicle was headed northbound in the southbound lanes. The car was being operated by a drunk driver, and was fleeing the scene of an accident that occurred shortly before the fatal crash. Cpl. Shea never saw it coming - he was taken to Milford Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead at 2:54 AM. He had served with the Delaware State Police for four years, assigned to Troop 7. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, parents and siblings and their families.
Those survivors aren't about to let Shea's memory fade away. Thirteen years ago, his family held a 5K running race at Swartswood State Park, in Newton, in Shea's memory, and 13 years later, that race is still a strong annual event. On Sunday, October 1, the Corporal Christopher M. Shea 5K and Mile Fun Run will again track runners through the bucolic trails of the state's first State Park.
The race's longevity is something unique as there are a lot of 5k races around and many of them only last a few years.
“We are a family oriented event- in our household, family always came first and foremost,” said Pat Shea. “We strive to treat everyone that participates like a member of our family and encourage them to enjoy the day with their family. We always try our best to personally invite everyone back, year after year, and that seems to work best for us. As an added bonus, we give out great shirts.”
Shea family members involved in the event are: Maurice and Patricia Shea (Corporal Shea's parents), his brothers, Pat, Tim, Andrew, and Maurice plus their wives. Their sister, Heather, and Shea's Aunt Patty does the pre-register check in. Everyone in the immediate family is a board member of the Corporal Christopher M. Shea Memorial Scholarship Fund.
All of the Shea kids grew up in Hampton and attended Kittatinny. Each year, those who have moved away return to Sussex County to help with the event and proceeds from the event go to a graduating Kittatinny student who is entering the field of law enforcement.
The scholarship is given out every year, sometimes to one, sometimes to two recipients. Last year's recipient was Courtlandt Rohsler and past recipients have been Jordan Lorenzo, Blake DiGiaimo, Scott Sponder, Jeffrey Chandler, Conner Casterline, Jordan Murch, The Ryan Senkier Flight Cancer Fund, Daniel McCarthy, Emileigh Galinski. Jeff Latawiec, Stacey Norman, Jacob Stark and the initial recipient was Zachary Virga.
The scholarship echo's Corporal Shea's passion for civil service. Said Pat Shea, “Chris' passion to become a police officer started when he was 12. In the eighth grade, Chris was nominated to spend a week at the NJ State Police basic training facility in Sea Girt, and this is what convinced him that this is what he wanted to do. As the end of high school approached, and Chris would have to choose his career direction, is when Chris would begin to turn this dream into a reality. He would first choose Wagner College in Staten Island, NY, where he attempted to study Criminal Justice. Realizing after his first semester that this studying 'gig' was not for him, and knowing at the time that the only other path to becoming a NJ State Police Officer without a college degree was 4 years of military service, Chris chose to become one of the few and the proud and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.”
After Shea completed his tour in the military, he took a job as a security officer at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. The requirement for being accepted into NJ State Police had changed while he was serving his four years in the Marines. At this point, the rules were now four years of military service and at least a two-yr associates degree. He quickly enrolled into the FDU curriculum to get started.
At FDU, he met Susan Cleaver, a varsity volleyball player at FDU. In time, Corporal Shea proposed to her in front of an entire gym of FDU volleyball players and fans. Quickly changing into a suit as the end of the match neared, he had his buddies display a huge sign reading "Susan, Will You Marry Me" as he approached her with roses and an engagement ring. They were married on May 15, 1999. Their son, Christopher Jr., was born on January 16, 2001 and daughter, Elizabeth, came along on August 8 2003.
“This annual event is what brings our family together in Chris's name,” Pat Shea said. “Much like a holiday, we see extended family from all over attending the event, and that makes it very special. A good portion of the participants are family, and friends we consider to be family. We're glad that this race, has been successful enough to help young men and women grow into exemplary citizens year, after year.”
The course is a double loop of the bucolic Swartswood State Park camp grounds with the race starting and finishing on the shores of pristine Swartswood Lake. There are awards for the top three male and female 5K finishers, and top three male and female finishers in each age group. Age groups are: 13 and under; 14-19; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; and 60+. High tech t-shirts will be given to all pre-registrants, and to all post-entrants while supplies last .There will be music, post race refreshments and prizes. Packet pick up and day-of-race registration starts at 11:30 am with the 5K race kicking off at 1 pm. The Mile Fun Run will start at 1:45 and Awards will starts at 2 pm.
Register on-line at at Day-of-race sign up is also available.