'Gentle giant' loved laughter and time spent with friends Policeman killed in crash was mentor to new officers

October 31, 1998|By Scott Higham and Rafael Alvarez | Scott Higham and Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF Staff writers Peter Hermann and Eric Siegel and researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

Five minutes before his death in a car crash yesterday morning, Baltimore police officer Harold J. Carey was doing one of the things he loved most about life -- laughing.

In a little luncheonette at Howard and 25th streets, Carey and his co-workers were joking about his arrest of a shoplifter.

The crook's take: 70 packets of Kool-Aid.

"We were joking with him, and we just all laughed," said Carey's partner, Officer Demetrius Jackson. "And then we hit the street."

Five blocks away, Baltimore's 3,200-member force lost an officer many knew as the "gentle giant," a bear of man at 6 feet 1 and 250 pounds who loved to joke with his friends, drive fast cars and shoot pool near his Catonsville home.

After six short years on the job, and at the age of 28, Carey's career came to a close at the corner of West 20th Street and Maryland Avenue in an accident that his colleagues are still trying to comprehend.

A Baltimore native, Carey grew up in a middle-class enclave near the Mondawmin Mall in a two-story, red-brick rowhouse framed by a trio of pine trees.

He was a hit with the kids in the neighborhood, and the elders who live on Tioga Parkway remembered him as one of the most respectful teens on the block.

Bessie Douglas and Willie Tyler have lived on Tioga Parkway for decades.

"Oh, Bessie, I'm so hurt," Tyler told Douglas as they stood in front of their row homes. "Oh honey, all the weight just come out of me when I heard."

Her eyes filled with tears. She slowly shook her head and stared blankly down the block.

"If anybody had a son, they would be proud," she finally said. "And his father was proud of Harold. Real proud."

Carey's father was at his job in Carlisle, Pa., where he works as a FTC truck driver, when he was told about a family emergency in Maryland.

He drove to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was told the terrible news.

Hours later, Harold A. Carey Jr. said he was too pained to talk about his son.

"Leave us to our peace," he said last night.

After graduating from Douglass High School in 1988 and studying engineering and earning 15 credits at Widener University in Pennsylvania, the younger Carey applied to the police department and was accepted in 1992.

Sgt. Mark Walrath was one of Carey's classmates.

"He was the strongest man I ever met," Walrath said. "He was big and strong, but very caring and giving. He would do anything for you."

Carey quickly established a reputation as a street-wise officer, earning a bronze star for shooting an armed man in 1993. He also earned a reputation as a generous man who helped younger officers coming up through the ranks.

Friends say Carey had a serious side. He loved his wife, Karen, his family, his church. He also loved his job and his colleagues at the Central District station house.

After work, Carey made time for his friends.

On Monday nights, he met them at the Chi Chi's in Catonsville to watch football. He liked to shoot pool at VIP Billiards on Route 40. And every three to six months, Carey would trade in one car for another -- a Corvette, a Mustang, a Nissan 300ZX.

He was so passionate about sports cars that he planned to attend NASCAR's driving school.

And then, there was Carey's sense of humor.

Last Halloween, he donned an oversized 1970s-style Afro wig and told everyone he was Jim Brown, the former NFL football star.

For tonight's Halloween, Carey had planned a funnier costume.

"He was going to be Fat Albert," Walrath said.

Pub Date: 10/31/98

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