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McAuliffe, first lady fly to state police sergeant’s funeral

Gov. Terry McAuliffe delivers his first speech before the General Assembly at the state Capitol in Richmond on Jan. 13. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) (Bob Brown/AP)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe flew to Martinsville on Tuesday to attend the funeral of a Virginia State Police sergeant who died on duty Saturday.

On his second business day on the job as governor, McAuliffe (D) took a state plane to the border of North Carolina to honor Sgt. J. Michael Phillippi of Martinsville, 65, who was killed in his patrol car in a one-car crash. In addition to the first lady, McAuliffe was accompanied by his public safety secretary-designee, former Democratic state delegate Brian J. Moran.

The night before, McAuliffe had called for a moment of silence to honor Phillippi during a speech to a joint assembly of the Senate and House.

“I’d also like to take a moment to honor Sergeant J. Michael Phillippi of Martinsville, one of our state troopers who died in the line of duty this past Saturday,” McAuliffe said. “He gave over 42 years of service to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”

Phillippi died at a hospital in Martinsville after his unmarked car apparently ran off Route 57 in Henry County, near the North Carolina border, police said. He was working as an overnight supervisor at the time of the crash. The car sustained only minor damage, suggesting that it was not traveling at a high rate of speed, police said.

State Police continue to investigate the accident. Preliminary findings from the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke indicate that the cause of death was the result of a medical condition and not due to any injuries sustained in the crash, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. Police could not disclose the medical condition because of patient privacy rights, Geller said.

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