Son of slain Reading police officer joins bicycle ride honoring his father, others killed on duty

Joshua Wertz and about 20 riders from Berks County police departments and the sheriff's office made the 250-mile trek to Washington for the National Law Enforcement Memorial service.

This year, for the first time, Josh, now 20 and a student at Lock Haven University, is one of the bicyclists on the three-day trek of about 250 miles.

Joining him are seven Reading police officers, most of whom served with his father. In all, about 20 of the more than 80 riders this year are officers with Berks County police departments and the sheriff's office.

The bicyclists, dressed in colorful Law Enforcement United kits, departed from the Crowne Plaza Reading in Wyomissing at 7:45 a.m. Friday, May 10, walking their bicycles across the covered bridge over the Tulpehocken Creek to the Berks County Heritage Center in Bern Township. Following the send-off ceremony at the Berks County Fraternal Order of Police memorial at the park, they headed to Reading.

Escorted by a thunderous motorcade of Harley-Davidsons from police departments throughout Pennsylvania and nearby states, the riders pedaled their bicycles down Route 183 past Reading Regional Airport.

During the first stop at City Hall - along Washington Street just around the corner from where her husband was shot by a suspect he was chasing - Trish Wertz used a megaphone to read the names of the eight fallen officers, as well as that of slain Deputy Sheriff Kyle Pagerly, and the date of their final roll call.

The group made a brief stop at the Spring Township Police Department before the riders headed out of Berks en route to Maryland.

Charles Broad