Hundreds lace up for annual Kerstetter 5K race in memory of Elyria police officer Jim Kerstetter

Posted at 12:02 PM, Jul 08, 2017

Hundreds of runners laced up their shoes and hit the pavement on Saturday for the annual Kerstetter 5K race in Elyria.

The race, founded in 2010, was started after Elyria police officer Jim Kerstetter was killed in the line of duty.

The 15-year veteran of the department was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call. He was 43 years old.

This year nearly 1,000 people participated in the annual run, including several area police officers.

Elyria patrolman Jay Loesch was hired to the department within days of Kerstetter in 1995. He was on duty the night officer Kerstetter was killed. 

"It's literally the worst thing that I've ever gone through in 23 years of being policeman," Loesch said. "There's nothing even close, nothing even close to what that night was like."

This year's race came just days after a NYPD officer was killed while in the line of duty. 

On Wednesday, officer Miosotis Familia was shot in the head in what officials are calling an "unprovoked attack on cops." 

Loesch said incidents like that make his job even harder.

"I'm not saying this is what we signed up for, nobody signs up to get shot. But we understand it comes with the territory. But I'd at least like to see it coming," he said.

For Kerstetter's daughter, Shelby, it takes her back to the night her father was killed.

"It brings back everything, all those feelings I felt. You just feel for those families. You don't want to see anybody else go through what you went through," Shelby said.

Through it all, Loesch and Shelby both said they are grateful for the support the family and department has received over the years.

"It's incredible to see this many people come out every year. It's awesome. It really is heartwarming to see it," Shelby said.

Money raised at the annual race goes towards the Kerstetter 5K Scholarship Fund.