THE devastated parents of the policewoman killed by a stolen jeep at the weekend have relived the moment they heard the news of her tragic death.
Mervyn and Dorothy Reynolds were on holiday in the US when they learned that the baby of the family, Philippa, had been killed by death drivers in a stolen 4 x 4 jeep which jumped a red light and careered into her unmarked police cars.
Mr Reynolds, a former RUC officer, recalled the moment he was told the news on Saturday morning while in a America on a trip to celebrate his wife’s 60th birthday.
“It was ten to two or thereabouts and my mobile phone rang and I looked at it and it said private number and I went ignore because I thought it was some cold caller,” he said.
“I got two calls and then Dorothy’s phone rang, it was only when Deborah’s name came up that I answered the phone.
“I was speaking, Dorothy was half-asleep, but in the conversation Deborah said Philippa is dead.
“I could not believe it.
“She said ‘I did not want to tell you so soon, but we did not want you finding out on Facebook when you are travelling home’.
“When the conversation ended, I went over to Dorothy and said we have one less daughter.”
Mrs Reynolds said her faith and “the love” of the people who had visited the family in the wake of Philippa’s death had kept them strong.
“I couldn’t believe it, but because of my faith I had to ring my friend and immediately get her to pray which I knew would help which is what she did,” she added.
“That has been carrying us since.
“We may appear strong today, but believe it we are not and our hearts are breaking.
“We are devastated.”
Ms Reynolds, a former pupil at Antrim Grammar School, was a back-seat passenger in the police car which was hit.
The PSNI believe she was killed instantly by the impact of the stolen vehicle.
Two men appeared in court in Derry on Monday charged over Ms Reynolds’ death.
Her funeral is due to take place at Mossley Methodist Church in Newtownabbey on Wednesday.
The dead police woman’s parents said they are very proud of the tributes paid to their daughter.
Her father Mervyn said he hoped her death would have a lasting legacy in Northern Ireland.
“I am just amazed at how much effect it has had with social media, this incident has gone viral worldwide and I just hope there will be some effect within our little country,” he added.
“I hear from her senior officers and others that people are coming in from parts of Derry that would never have walked into a police station before.
“They are handing in sympathy cards, mass cards, it is amazing.
“I just hope more people will see the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) as the community police force that it is.
“It is there to help everyone no matter what their religion or beliefs are.”
Mr Reynolds and his wife Dorothy said they had brought up Philippa to treat everyone she encountered in the same way and that she had applied this in her role as a police officer.
“I tried to guide her in what it had been like for me and to say just treat everybody the same, don’t be bringing politics, religion or anything into your job, you are there to serve everybody no matter what,” he added.