'A real tragedy': Off-duty Philadelphia police officer killed in Somerton crash, authorities say

The Philadelphia Police Department is grieving the loss of one of their own after an off-duty officer was killed in a crash in Somerton on Thursday. 

Philadelphia Chief Inspector Scott Small says just before midnight, officers in the 7th District received numerous calls about a crash at the intersection of Bustleton Avenue and Rennard Street. 

According to authorities, when officers and medics arrived on scene, they found two vehicles involved in the crash. 

A 50-year-old man driving a Hyundai was transported to Jefferson-Torresdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, authorities say. 

The vehicle that struck the officer's car was a BMW with an 18-year-old driver and two teenage passengers, police say. 

None of the individuals in the BMW were injured and they denied medical treatment, according to officials. 


Investigators say the Hyundai was traveling west on Rennard Street crossing Bustelon Avenue as the BMW was going south on Bustleton Avenue. 

The BMW struck the passenger side of the Hyundai, jumped the curb and then struck a tree, per authorities. 

Police say a witness spoke to accident investigators and say the BMW was traveling at a high rate of speed. 

Small says through the investigation, police learned the driver of the Hyundai was an active Philadelphia police officer who had just finished the night shift and was driving home in his personal vehicle. 

He was later identified as Henry Gonski, an officer who spent more than two decades on the police force. 

"It's with a heavy heart that we learn of the tragic passing of dedicated, police officer, Henry Gonski III, killed in an off-duty accident last night," said FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby. "Our friend and colleague served this city for some 27 years with distinction, honor and integrity. We pray for his family, friends, and colleagues. The FOP will never forget his dedication and contributions to the police department and this city." 

"It's a real tragedy," Small said. "He was driving home from work and he was just a few blocks from his home when this accident occurred." 

Accident investigators are processing the scene and impairment is not believed to be a factor in the case, authorities say.