CANONSBURG (KDKA) — It was an emotional day for family and friends of Canonsburg Police Officer Scott Bashioum, who lost his life one year ago today responding to a domestic dispute.
Bashioum and his partner, Officer James Saieva, were ambushed by Michael Cwiklinski who was holding his estranged wife hostage. Bashioum was killed and Saieva was wounded. Cwiklinski killed his pregnant wife, Dalia Sabae, and their unborn child before turning the gun on himself.
On Friday, family, friends and community members gathered to re-name the Center Avenue bridge, over Chartiers Creek, in Canonsburg the “Scott Bashioum Memorial Bridge” in Bashioum’s honor.
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti Reports on the Bridge Dedication:
Rev. Don Coleman, pastor of Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church, opened the ceremony with a prayer that memorialized the dedication’s significance.
“God, as we gather to honor him, remembering his sacrifice,” Coleman prayed, “we ask your presence with each and every one of us. As all of us travel this bridge, may it be a reminder to us to move forward into hope and the future you have for all of us.”
State Rep. Brandon Neuman, who spearheaded the effort to rename the bridge, said people in Canonsburg and beyond won’t soon forget the example Bashioum set.
“When you look at the violence in our world today, and you think of people like Scott, it gives you hope, makes you believe in people, makes you believe that one person can make a difference. Scott is not a hero because of the way that he died, but the way that he lived,” said Rep. Neuman.
Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, neighbors, friends and family came out for the ceremony. Firefighters set up two ladder trucks on either side of the bridge entrance and hoisted a giant American flag between the ladders in a sign of honor.
The Canon-McMillan High School Band performed the national anthem, and a trumpeter played Taps while a color guard fired a salute.
Officials thanked the community for the outpouring of financial support for the Bashioum family in the year since his death.
The family, including his widow and their two young sons, sat in the front row, with one son holding a small American flag. Bashioum’s former wife, Cheryl, the mother of his two older daughters, also attended. She became emotional when asked about the honor and thinking of the family’s loss.
“He deserves it. He was a great man,” Cheryl Bashioum said of her former husband. “I miss him. I miss him for my girls. And just let people know he’d be happy where he is and died doing what he loved.”
It was clear that even as the pain of that day one year ago fades, memories of Scott Bashioum’s sacrifice will not.
Hope Didier, of Canonsburg, put it this way: “In this world we live in today with all the hate against police, recognizing one of our own who gave his life — there aren’t many people who would do what these guys do and he did it tenfold.”
Later in the evening, family, friends, fellow police officers and elected officials gathered for a candlelight vigil to mark the sad anniversary.
Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome told the crowd: “There is sadness and grief for the loss we all feel, yet there is admiration for the courage that Scott had as he did his duty as a police officer, and in doing so, gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Bashioum was a seven-year veteran of the Canonsburg Police Department.
“He was a husband, father, son, brother, a police officer, firefighter, and so much more,” Pastor Steven Parkhill said during the vigil.
Police Chief Alex Coghill, who was Bashioum’s boss, said, “This tragedy scarred the Canonsburg community and the police department forever, but we bear that everlasting scar, and like all scars, it has made us tougher and stronger.”
Many people at the candlelight vigil knew Bashioum personally, and they felt his loss more deeply. Others didn’t know him, but they came to show their support and love for him and his family.
Richard Hall, from Houston, Pennsylvania, said, “The thing I’d like to remember about this, a lot of people came out tonight, so something bad brought a lot of good people together.”
“I could talk to Scotty about any problems. Scott was always there for me. He was a good cop; he’d do anything for anybody,” Cathy O’Donnell, of Canonsburg, said.