Newsday
September 22, 2014


NYPD Officer Michael Williams killed, 8 officers hurt in police van crash

By JOHN ASBURY AND EMILY NGO  john.asbury@newsday.com,emily.ngo@newsday.com

 
(Credit: NYPD, David Greene)  
NYPD Officer Michael Williams, 25, of the Bronx, was killed and eight other officers injured when a police van crashed Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 in the Bronx  

An NYPD officer was killed and eight other officers were injured when a police van crashed Sunday morning in the Bronx.

Police identified the officer who died as Michael Williams, 25, of the Bronx. He was taken to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he was pronounced dead just before 6 a.m., police said.

The nine officers were in a police van that crashed just after 5 a.m. on westbound Bruckner Boulevard near Bryant Avenue in the Hunts Point neighborhood, said Lt. Thomas Antonetti of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx.

The other eight officers, some seriously injured, were taken to Lincoln, St. Barnabas Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center. One officer remained in critical condition at Lincoln hospital.

Williams had just graduated from the police academy, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

"This is a very sad day in New York City," de Blasio said outside the 47th Precinct in the Bronx's Edenwald neighborhood. "We lost one of our finest. We lost one of the newest members of the finest."

He said Williams is part of a police family. "This is what he wanted to do with his life," the mayor said. "His dream was to be an NYPD officer.

"We're all in pain today: to lose a good young man who was just starting out."

De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton met privately with officers at the precinct, where purple-and-black memorial bunting had been hung over the entranceway, before speaking to reporters.

Bratton, who returned to New York from a conference in Aspen, Colorado, said two of the officers would remain overnight at Lincoln hospital for observations but were listed as being stable. They are Wesly Taveras, 25, and Francine Devalle, 29.

He said he planned to visit them in the hospital before traveling to Carmel in Putnam County to visit with Williams' parents. Williams' father Michael is an officer with Carmel police. Williams was an only child, he said.

Bratton said the 47th Precinct is a "very close-knit" unit and officers there are "in deep mourning." He said the crash investigation is ongoing and officers would look at use of seat belts and the weather as possible factors in the crash. NYPD Chief Philip Banks said speed also may have been a factor.

Banks and police union president Patrick Lynch spoke outside Lincoln hospital, where Williams' body was moved on a stretcher as dozens of uniformed officers lined up to salute the procession.

Banks said after speaking with Williams' parents, he learned that when Williams took the police officer test, he said he hoped the hiring process wouldn't be too long so he could get to work.

"That's all he ever wanted to do is become a police officer," Banks said. "It was a dream come true that he was able to serve in the department."

Williams was sitting in the back of the 12-passenger 2009 Ford Econoline when it crashed into a highway divider along the Bruckner Expressway. Williams was ejected through the back window, police said in a statement. No other vehicles were involved.

The officers were heading to special detail for Monday's UN General Assembly and a climate change march in Manhattan when the van crashed.

Williams was with the Police Officer Peer Program, a spokesman said. He started with the force in the police academy in January and graduated in June.

"Today's going to be a difficult day for all New York City police officers," said Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.