Hearts join in North Adams as native son makes final trip along Main Street

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The hearse carrying the late William “Billy” Evans arrives Wednesday night at the Paciorek Funeral Home on Hoosac Street in Adams. 

The motorcade reached its destination in Adams well after dark, having made a long, slow pass along Main Street in North Adams, the home town of the late William “Billy” Evans.  In North Adams, hundreds of people crowded along Main Street, taking photos. A hush came over the street as the motorcade made its right-hand turn onto Main, after its long trip west on Route 2. 

“People seemed really affected,” said Eagle staff member Francesca Paris, who reported from the scene, along with visual journalist Gillian Jones. “But they also seemed happy to be around each other.” The long procession included representatives from police departments in Adams, Cheshire, Chicopee, Clarksburg, Dalton, Lee, Otis, Pittsfield and others, including police from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the sheriff’s department and state police. 

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Hundreds of people stand in downtown North Adams Wednesday night along the motorcade route to pay their respects to the late William “Billy” Evans, the city native who died on duty at the U.S. Capitol April 2.

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Aubrey Floriani, 9, of North Adams stands along the motorcade route in downtown North Adams on Wednesday evening with a poster she made.

The procession turned south on Route 8 on its final leg toward Adams.

And here, still more people stood lined up along the highway.  Why did people came out on this spring night? Don and Carol Graves of Adams offered a clear and simple answer:

“We’re here to support the family,” Carol Graves said. That sort of empathy was on people’s lips Wednesday night. Tragedies can make everyone feel related.

“When we heard the news, we didn’t believe it,” Don Graves said. “I feel so sorry for him and his family.” Carol Graves was thinking about family in another way, too. She was reflecting on the fact that Evans will be buried beside his father in Bellevue Cemetery in Adams.

“He seemed like a real family guy,” she said. “I think the world is just sad right now and we don’t have many happy things, but hopefully that’ll change.”

Motorcade arrives in North Adams

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Left: The motorcade approaches the hairpin turn on Route 2 as it draws near North Adams. The hearse carrying Evans can be seen at the front left. The motorcade included state police cruisers and motorcycles and vehicles representing North Adams police, Pittsfield police and the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Department.

At least one helicopter overhead was tracking the route. Police could be seen on the highway median, pausing to salute Evans and the entourage and literally turning the scene blue, as emergency lights flashed. Right: Hundreds of people stand in downtown North Adams along the motorcade route to pay their respects to Evans, a city native who died in the line of duty at the U.S.

Capitol on April 2.

Ahead of the procession, a line of state police vehicles came west on Route 2, clearing a path for the motorcade. It proceeded slowly down the steep hill into North Adams, lights from the vehicles carving out a path and illuminating those who’d gathered to say goodbye to William “Billy” Evans.

In North Adams, Mayor Tom Bernard waited for the procession to arrive. He said the moment carries deep significance. “I just saw an old friend and we were talking about how North Adams knocks us out,” he said.

“It’s the way of the city. We show up, we fold the arms around people when they’re in need, we come together when it counts. This is a night that counts,” Bernard said.

He said of Evans: “This is someone who deserves respect.” Larry Lake of North Adams, a hospice chaplain, came out, though he does not know the Evans family. “It brought people together.

It’s unfortunate it had to happen this way but it brought people together,” he said. “Death brings people together. Just the fact that he was brought up in North Adams. I bet a majority of the people here didn’t know him, but that doesn’t matter.”

Lake was asked what he’d say, what consoling words he might choose. “There are no magic words. But focus on the memories that keep him alive. What do you remember that makes you smile?

What do you remember that makes you cry? The grief will go on for years. This is the immediate mourning.”

He added: “I think for many here. it takes their mind off of what they’re mourning. Jobs, relationships, loved ones, whatever Covid has taken from them. We hold everything in common here.”

As dusk comes on, North Adams waits

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Lynn Riordan and Michael Riordan wait at the Hairpin Turn for the motorcade with officer Bill Evans.

The motorcade is making its way west on Route 2.

People have gathered at the infamous hairpin turn overlooking the city of North Adams, to be among the first to greet the procession carrying the body of the late William “Billy” Evans.  They include Lynn Riordan and Michael Riordan. Carolyn Rousseau came from Pittsfield to North Adams to pay her respects, joined by her husband, Ron. “We didn’t know Billy him but we feel like we knew him,” Carolyn Rousseau said.

She was emotional watching C-SPAN on Tuesday. “I’ve just been reading everything about him, how he cheered everybody up.” Her friend, Catherine Dellea, and her husband, Paul, of North Adams turned out. Catherine Dellea said she lived near Billy Evan’s mother as a kid and remembered Billy’s father selling lamb tongues for £3 a jar.

“She probably doesn’t remember me, but I remember her, and I think people should come out to support a patriot. I’ve been thinking about it a lot these days. You know that person …

And as a mother, you feel for her. Especially when you have grandkids, you think, that could be you.”

Public safety crews turn out to honor Evans all along I-91

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Firefighters and police officers offer salutes to the late William “Billy” Evans as the motorcade passes through Longmeadow, Mass., on I-91.

As the motorcade arrived in Massachusetts on I-91 from Bradley International Airport, it passed under a bridge on Bark Haul Road in Longmeadow.  Atop that overpass, nearly two dozen firefighters and police officers offered salutes, as two ladder trucks held a draped American flag.

A few minutes further north, the motorcade passed beneath a crew from the Springfield Fire Department, including seven members who stood atop a ladder truck. Some vehicles in the motorcade departed after the procession left Connecticut. More than a dozen vehicles are continuing on toward Berkshire County as of 7 p.m.

The motorcade includes state police cruisers and motorcycles and vehicles representing North Adams police, Pittsfield police and the Berkshire County sheriff’s department. At least one helicopter overhead has been tracking the route as well. Police can be seen on the highway median, pausing to salute Evans and the entourage.

Word is clearly out. People are standing at overpasses all along I-91. 

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Members of the Springfield Fire Department stand on a Route 20A overpass, including seven firefighters on a ladder truck.

Airport departure swift after plane arrives 

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A hearse carrying the casket of the late William “Billy” Evans, the U.S. Capitol Police officer killed on duty April 2,  prepares to head Wednesday evening to Berkshire County.  

The jet carrying the body of the late William “Billy” Evans, the U.S.

Capitol Police officer killed in the line of duty April 2, has arrived at Bradley International Airport. A motorcade this evening will escort a hearse carrying Evans on the journey back to his home town of North Adams, and then to a funeral home in Adams. The Eagle will provide updates of the motorcade’s trip to Berkshire County, where people plan to gather to honor the late police officer.

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Vehicles head Wednesday out onto the tarmac at Bradley International Airport, part of the motorcade that will bring the body of the late William “Billy” Evans back to Berkshire County. 

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A hearse bearing the emblem of the United States Capitol Police waits at Bradley International Airport for the aircraft bearing the body of the late William “Billy” Evans. 

People gathered along the motorcade’s route from Bradley to I-91.

Eagle staffer Stephanie Zollshan is following the procession. She reports: “Tons of people lining the streets, saluting, waving, flags as we go.”

Where to go to witness Thursday’s funeral procession

On Thursday, people can pay their respects to Evans by gathering on Park Street in Adams at 1 p.m. to witness his funeral procession. The funeral and burial are private, but the public can watch the procession go by on Park Street from St.

Stanislaus Kostka Church to Bellevue Cemetery, where Evans will be buried beside his father, Howard.

Adams officials said Wednesday that people who gather are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The cemetery will be closed to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.