Police Officer Dies in Bruckner Van Crash;
8 Officers Injured in Hunts Point
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22- One police officer has died and eight others were injured when an NYPD van filled with officers, crashed when the unidentified driver lost control of the vehicle. The van filled with cops was heading into Manhattan as part of a special detail to assist with the next days gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
Investigators say the van left the 47th Precinct and was headed into Manhattan at just after 5 a.m. on Sunday, September 21, when the van struck the concrete barrier along the westbound Bruckner Expressway between Longwood and Bryant Avenue's in Hunts Point.
At least three officers in the most serious condition were rushed to Lincoln Hospital, while the rest were transported to Jacobi and St. Barnabas Hospitals.
One officer, later identified as 25-year-old rookie Michael Williams, succumbed to his injuries at just before 6 a.m. Williams had been sitting in the back seat of the 2009 Ford Econoline van, when he was ejected out of the vehicles back doors upon impact.
Visiting officers at the 47th Precinct, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, "This is a very sad day in New York City," and said of the young officer, "This is what he wanted to do with his life."
Mayor de Blasio said the investigation would determine if the officer had worn a seat belt or if a brief shower at the time of the crash may have played a role in Williams' death.
Traditionally, officers do not wear seat belts as passengers in vans as the wrap-around belt do not fit around the waist of most officers and a rule that forbids officers from removing their holster and service weapon.
The area of the crash has recently undergone a complete renovation with a new traffic pattern. The van had just come out of a turn and was traveling on a straight-away that leads to the elevated section of the Bruckner Expressway at the time of the crash.
Williams was a former deputy sheriff with the Dutchess County Sheriff's Department and had graduated from the NYPD police academy in June and was assigned to the 47th Precinct. Williams' father is a 30 year veteran of the Putnam County Police Department.
A funeral mass for Williams will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in LaGrangeville, N.Y. followed by burial at the Union Valley Cemetery in Mahopac, N.Y.