News: Nassau County Cop Killed On-Duty
(Long Island, N.Y.)Nassau County Police Officer, Michael J. Califano, was killed last Saturday morning while he was pulling over a box truck on the Long Island Expressway. Twenty-five year old truck driver, John Kaley, plowed into Califano’s patrol car, forcing it between two vehicles. Reports suggest that Kaley was asleep behind the wheel at the time of the accident.
The accident occurred on the westbound side of the Long Island Expressway near exit 39N to Glenn Cove Road in Old Westbury. The forty-four year old cop had pulled over the box truck for issues with lighting at roughly 10:55pm on Friday night. Moments later, Kaley’s flatbed truck carrying a Nissan struck the patrol car, sending it a hundred feet before it crashed underneath the box truck.
Kaley’s vehicle later fell on top of the policeman’s Ford Crown Victoria and sent the box truck into lanes of traffic. Califano was trapped inside the patrol car the whole time, and it took paramedics a half-hour to release him from the roof of the vehicle. Westbound lanes on the Long Island Expressway were closed until 8am on Saturday morning while police investigated the scene.
The two people in the box car and Kaley’s fiancée were rushed to Mineola‘s Winthrop-University Hospital. Califano was taken to Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow and was pronounced dead at 12:30am on Saturday morning, roughly an hour and a half after the collision. Califano’s vehicle was beyond totaled, and the lack of brake-marks on the road indicated that Kaley did not stop before hitting the officer’s car going an estimated 60-70mph in a 55mph speed zone.
Kaley was charged with criminally negligent homicide, violations against the “Move Over Act,” and three counts of misdemeanor assault for the three others injured in the crash. The Move Over Act was put in effect on the first of the year and is designed to protect police cars and emergency vehicles pulled over on roadways. According to reports, Califano was inside his patrol car with lights flashing at the time of the accident. Kaley was arrested and arraigned without bail, and was later appointed a legal aid attorney for a court appearance at the 1st District Court in Hempstead.
Califano, of Wantagh, graduated St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip and worked in the Nassau Corrections office for ten years before transferring to the Highway Patrol Unit. He’d been a policeman for twelve years and was an active member of church and charity events. Friends considered him a family man who went out of his way to help people, and who had gone as far as to repair an elderly woman’s muffler so she didn’t have to call a tow truck. Califano usually went skiing with other officers on the day of the accident, but chose to decline on the trip this year.
Califano’s wakes are to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Massapequa Funeral Home. His funeral is scheduled for Thursday and he’s to be buried at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury. He’s survived by his wife and three sons, who are between six and thirteen years of age. The death of Califano is the second tragedy to reach the family; in 2003 they lost their infant daughter to illness.
Kaley, of New Britain, Connecticut, has a two-year-old daughter, and friends insist that he was not characteristically a reckless driver. To honor Califano, County Executive Edward Mangano ordered flags to fly at half-staff around the county. Califano’s death was the first on-duty fatality in the Nassau County Police Department since the ’93 loss of Gary Farley who suffered a heart attack two days after being punched in the chest by a suspect. Farley was thirty-six and had been with the force for seven years.
An issue raised by this tragedy is the safety of the location of the traffic stops along the highway. While some claim that Califano was in a good, safe spot to approach the box truck, others maintain that the spot was particularly dark, with an obscure on-ramp practically blocked by snow.