NORWALK, Ohio - Authorities were working yesterday to determine why the head of Norwalk's Salvation Army chapter stepped out of his car onto State Rt. 2 near Huron, where he was struck and killed Monday.
Maj. Terry McKay, 50, of Norwalk was hit by a pickup that was towing a 15-foot construction trailer shortly before noon in the highway's eastbound lanes near State Rt. 13 in Erie County. The driver of the truck, Dennis Peskar, 65, of Elyria, Ohio, was not charged.
Lt. David Cope, commander of the Sandusky post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, said investigators don't know why Mr. McKay stopped on the side of the road, but they do know it wasn't because of car trouble.
“We already know the vehicle wasn't broken down,” Lieutenant Cope said. “We're treating it as any fatal traffic crash where a pedestrian was struck and killed. It's still under investigation to determine what exactly happened out there and what caused him to go out into the road.”
Mr. McKay's wife, Brenda, also a Salvation Army major, said her husband was on his way to return a library book in Lorain when he was killed. She said troopers found the book In His Presence, by Charles Stanley, near Mr. McKay's body.
“He couldn't find that particular book at the Norwalk Library, and that's why he went to Lorain,” she said, pausing to compose herself. “He was on his way to return the book, of all the crazy things.”
Mrs. McKay said her husband left her a note at home telling her about his book errand. “He said he would be back in the office after noon,” she said.
Instead, a uniformed officer showed up at Salvation Army headquarters.
A co-worker, Doug Peterson, volunteered to go with the officer to identify the body, sparing Mrs. McKay from that painful task.
“He said, `Major, I'll go for you,'” she recalled. “And I'll never forget that. ... It's my hope that I can remain here, and with the great staff we have, I feel that could be possible.”
Mr. McKay and his wife had been co-ministers of the Salvation Army in Norwalk since October, 2001. Stunned community leaders said he made a big impact in a short time.
“It is a shock,” Norwalk Mayor Brooks Hartmann said. “I just couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's a tragic event, and we'll miss him.”
Linda Bersche, executive director of Huron County United Fund, said Mr. McKay was especially active in helping troubled children.
“He had a lot of personal charisma and made a lot of personal contacts in the short time he was here,” she said.
Mr. McKay began his last day at 6 a.m., visiting a Salvation Army employee who was scheduled for gall bladder surgery later that morning.
“He was very people-oriented, and he had such a joy - joy just flowed from him - and he wanted people to know why he had that joy, and it was the love of God in his heart,” Mrs. McKay said.
The McKays spent 18 years working for Salvation Army in several places, including Lancaster, Pa., Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Lorain. They spent five years in the 1980s working at a drop-in center for teens in a small town near Lancaster. They met in an introductory education course at Slippery Rock State University in Pennsylvania,
Mr. McKay also is survived by a son, Ryan; daughter, Julie; mother, Jean McKay Dicks; brother, Kenneth McKay, and sister, Robbin Eckhart.
Visitation will be after 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Walker Funeral Home in Norwalk. Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday in First Presbyterian Church, Norwalk. The family requests contributions to the Salvation Army.41.24199 -82.61524