TRIBUTE (PHOTOS): Large snowflakes descended slowly as a cortege led by motorcycle units bore Cliffside Park Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello to Madonna Cemetery and Mausoleum in Fort Lee this afternoon following a funeral that drew hundreds.
A short time earlier, honor guards from several law enforcement agencies lined the steps to Epiphany Church as mourners gathered to honor and memorialize the 22-year-old officer, who died of injuries sustained when he and fellow rookie Thaier (Theo) Abdallah were hit by an SUV on a borough street last Saturday night.
Petruzzello’s red Mustang remained parked this morning outside A.K. Macagna Funeral Home in Cliffside Park, where a wake yesterday jammed local streets. A large photo of him was placed inside the windshield, while a teddy bear sat at the end of a wiper blade.
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In addition to Cliffside Park, today’s procession included officers from Englewood, Fairview, Lyndhurst and Westwood, from the NYPD, Suffern, North Bergen and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, from Paterson, Clifton, Hawthorne and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, from Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Newark, Orange and the CSX Railroad.
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Borough officials on Monday made the bright, hard-working and supremely dedicated public servant a full-time officer. They gave his family Badge #133, a gray-rosed replica of which adorned the roof of the flower car this morning.
Police issued several summonses to the driver, Anie Kalayian of Cliffside Park, for careless driving and failing to yield to pedestrians, among other offenses.
No alcohol or drugs were involved, Bill Maer, a spokesman for the borough, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Kalayian, a 62-year-old trauma expert and author who was in the vehicle with her 93-year-old mother, told police that she didn’t see Petruzzello and Abdallah.
Barely a month out of the Bergen County Police Academy, the Class 1 special officers were walking a beat near the Palisade Avenue sub-precinct, where they’re stationed, when they were hit by a Honda CRV driven by Kalayian on Walker Street near John Street around 6:30 p.m. last Saturday, Maer said.
Kalayian was headed east toward Palisade Avenue when her vehicle hit the officers, knocking Petruzzello an estimated 25 feet, law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Abdallah, 24. who is also a volunteer firefighter, was released from Hackensack University Medical Center on Sunday.
He died just before 5 a.m. Monday.
“Officer Petruzzello was a bright, hard[-]working young man, with a lifetime of potential before him,” Police Chief Richard Gaito said.
“Officer Petruzzello died protecting the residents of Cliffside Park while on foot patrol,” Acting Mayor Thomas Calabrese said. “My heart and prayers goes out to [his]family, friends and all the members of the Cliffside Park Police Department.”
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