Senior Corrections Officer John H. (Packy) Paskewicz Maine Department of Corrections Maine End of Watch: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Patch image: Maine Department of Corrections, Maine

Senior Corrections Officer John H. (Packy) Paskewicz
Maine Department of Corrections

End of Watch: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: 58
Tour of Duty: 20 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Heart attack
Date of Incident: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Senior Corrections Officer John Paskewicz suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in a training exercise on defending against attacks with edged weapons.
He had just completed one of the scenarios and was speaking to his son, who also serves as a corrections officer, and other officers when he suddenly collapsed. The officers immediately began CPR until paramedics arrived but were unable to revive him.
Officer Paskewicz was a U.S. Army and Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. He had served with the Maine Department of Corrections for 20 years and was assigned to the Maine Correctional Center.

Agency Contact Information
Maine Department of Corrections
25 Tyson Drive 3rd Floor
State House Station 111
Augusta, ME 04333
Phone: (207) 287-2711
Please contact the Maine Department of Corrections for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

WINDHAM, Maine — Hundreds packed the Dolby Funeral Chapel on Friday to mourn and honor John Paskewicz, a guard at the Maine Correctional Center who died of a heart attack Tuesday during a training exercise with his son and other officers.

Officers from the prison stood at attention outside the funeral home to pay tribute to a man who friends described as a devoted guard and father, a loyal friend and someone who could always lighten the mood with a wisecrack or joke.

"He was that guy that could make anyone laugh," said Rob Bachelder, a corrections officer and a longtime family friend. "He was a great guy. We’re all devastated. He’s family to a lot of us."

Paskewicz, 58, was a corrections officer for the past 20 years and a member of the state prison’s emergency response team.

He collapsed Tuesday during a training class held to sharpen officers’ skills in weapons and other emergency situations at the prison.

Paskewicz had just finished a course and was joking with his son and other officers when he collapsed. A couple of officers gave him CPR before paramedics arrived. John P. Paskewicz, who worked with his father for the past nine years, assisted the officers.

"We did all we could to help him," his son said before Friday’s wake. "I couldn’t be more proud of the guys for doing what they could to save his life."

Paskewicz, called "Packy" by other officers, was described by law enforcement officials as a dedicated guard who was well respected by officers and inmates.

Scott Burnheimer, superintendent of the correctional center in Windham, said he was compassionate with inmates and gained their respect by talking with them. He said Paskewicz had a positive outlook on life and an "easy way about him."

"It’s like losing a family member," he said of Paskewicz before the wake. "He was (a big) part of this facility."

Ken Sawyer, assistant to the superintendent and a longtime friend, said that in the Veterans Day parade last week, an ex-inmate approached the correctional center’s transport vehicle and thanked Paskewicz.

"He shook Packy’s hand and my hand and said thanks," Sawyer said. "That’s how he touched people. He was respected throughout. It’s a huge loss."

Paskewicz raised three children: his son, and daughters Kellie Paskewicz of Windham and Wendy Paskewicz of Sebago.

At the funeral home, family members, friends and law enforcement officers paid their respects to Paskewicz, who was dressed in his original Army uniform. He served in the Navy and Army during the Vietnam War, and retired from the National Guard with about 20 years of service.

His memorabilia from the military was displayed at the funeral home, along with family photos from trips to Civil War battlefields. Music by the rock band AC/DC was played at the funeral home. Mourners called the wake a celebration.

"It’s who Packy was," said Carol Waig, staff development specialist at the correctional center. "If he knew we were standing around him crying, he would have sat up and slapped us or told us a dirty joke. He was a really great man. I miss him already."


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