Community mourns, support pours in after loss of JSO bailiff

Several agencies express condolences following tragic death of Cathy Adams

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville community mourned Monday with the Sheriff's Office after a bailiff was killed in a DUI wreck that also critically injured her JSO officer husband over the weekend.

Bailiff Cathy Adams, 43, was riding with her husband, JSO Officer William "Jack" Adams, and their two teenage children when their SUV was hit by suspected drunk driver on I-95 in St. Johns County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

JSO announced late Sunday night that Cathy Adams had died after coming off life support. Jack Adams remained in critical condition at a local hospital Monday. The couple's children suffered minor injuries.

“It’s a sad day,” Undersheriff Pat Ivey said. “To know we lost one and you have one critically injured, and you have two children -- it doesn’t get any worse than that.”

The family had been driving home from Orlando, where they watched Mandarin High School win a state football title. A Mustangs football team captain said the Adams' daughter is a cheerleader at the school.

"She's a big member of the -- not only the cheerleading team but the school and the community," Matthew Shimko said. "And we just want to be there for her."

Shimko said that as much as school is thinking about pep rallies and celebrations for the program's first state championship, the overall focus is on their friend and her family.

“We just all want to really be there for them,” Shimko said. “While we did have this amazing moment with the state championship, we need to respect what happened and be there for her and her family.”

Kim Johnston, 46, was charged with two counts of driving under the influence with serious bodily injury in the crash. She was released Monday afternoon $100,000 bond.

As the justice process begins, the grief continues for the JSO family and law enforcement departments all across the First Coast. The husband and wife have been described as dedicated law enforcement officers whose loss is felt by many. Several departments expressed their grief and support online.


Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also tweeted and encouraged all of Jacksonville to think of the Adams' family and their brothers and sisters of the Sheriff's Office.

How people can help

The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police said Jack Adams will have a long road to physical recovery and "will be fighting to find the new normal for his family."

FOP representatives said many people have asked how they can financially help the family.

Donations are being accepted via the Fraternal Order of Police. Checks can be made payable to the FOP Foundation, notating “Fallen Officer Relief and Welfare Fund” in the memo section. They can be mailed to 5530 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, Florida, 32207. You can also call 904-398-7010 ext. 10 or 11 and donate via debit/credit card.

The FOP will also collect donations at Lodge 5-30 on Beach Boulevard during its free pictures with Santa Claus event Thursday. Photo sessions are from 9-11 a.m., 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles announced Monday he will match up to $15,000 in money donated to help the Adams family through his foundation's website by Friday. Donors are also encouraged to leave a message for the family in the box "Donation Message."

"First responders play a vital role in our community every day," Bortles said. "My foundation aims to ensure these men and women who strengthen and protect our communities are properly recognized and supported. Our thoughts and prayers are with William and his family during this challenging time."

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