TRIBUTE: The funeral for Cliffside Park Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Epiphany Church on Knox Avenue.
Visiting is set for 1 to 9 p.m. Friday at the AK Macagna Funeral Home, 495 Anderson Avenue.
Last night, a motorcade of more than two dozen vehicles, including motorcycle units, escorted Petruzzello’s body to Macagna’s, a little over 12 hours after he died of injuries sustained when he and fellow rookie officer Thaier (Theo) Abdallah were hit by an SUV Saturday night.
“This took my breath away,” one witness said moments after watching the procession pass. “RIP and condolences to his family.”
“Just saw this on Forest Ave,” said another. “My heart just stopped.”
Borough officials yesterday made Petruzzello, 22, a full-time officer and gave his family Badge #133, as flags were lowered to half-staff and purple and black bunting was hung at the municipal complex.
Meanwhile, authorities who issued several summonses to internationally known trauma expert and author Anie Kalayian of Cliffside Park — for careless driving and failing to yield to pedestrians, among other offenses — were reviewing surveillance footage from the area as they continued an investigation that they said could lead to additional charges.
No alcohol or drugs were involved, Bill Maer, a spokesman for the borough, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , adding that speed, inattention or distraction hadn’t yet been ruled out.
“All aspects are being investigated,” Maer said.
Kalayian, 62, who was in the vehicle with her 93-year-old mother, told police that she didn’t see the officers.
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. 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.
Petruzzello, meanwhile, remained critical at the time with severe brain injuries following emergency surgery overnight. He died just before 5 a.m. yesterday.
“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.”
“Today Cliffside Park lost a future leader and a dedicated police officer,” added Councilman Kenneth Corcoran, the borough police commissioner.
Kalayjian is an internationally recognized expert on the psychological effects of trauma in disaster victims. An adjunct professor of psychology at Fordham University, she has worked with veterans of the Gulf and Vietnam wars and with survivors of the Holocaust and Ottoman-Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, and with survivors of earthquakes and hurricanes, according to her resume.
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