New York Post
July 18, 2000


S.I. COP KILLED IN CHASE

By LARRY CELONA, JESSICA GRAHAM and TRACY CONNOR

A Staten Island cop who crashed his car into a telephone pole while chasing down a stolen motorcycle died yesterday — after a desperate, three-hour battle to save his life.

Doctors revived Officer John Kelly, 31, three times before he succumbed to massive injuries, surrounded by family — including his police-officer wife and brothers.

"They kept him alive long enough so his mother could be here before he died," Mayor Giuliani said after visiting heartbroken relatives at St. Vincent's Hospital on Staten Island.

The father of two "died a hero," Police Commissioner Howard Safir said. "He was doing what he was trained to do and what he loved to do."

The eight-year veteran, a member of the Auto Crime Division, was on patrol in an unmarked black Chevy Lumina when he spotted a motorcyclist driving erratically.

Kelly, who was working alone, ran a license plate check on the black Suzuki bike and when it came back stolen, he tried to get the driver to pull over.

During the brief high-speed chase that ensued, Kelly lost control of his car and crashed into a utility pole on Forest and Gulf avenues in the Mariner's Harbor section.

Emergency workers who responded found the car "folded in half" on the driver's side, its siren blaring and lights flashing, police said.

Kelly went into cardiac arrest at the accident scene. He was rushed to St. Vincent's, where shaken cops and weeping relatives quickly converged.

For three hours, doctors fought a losing battle against his massive internal injuries. He was pronounced dead at 4:45 p.m., the second cop to die in the line of duty this year.

"This is really a great tragedy for the city and for the Police Department because his family and his wife's family are very much a part of the Police Department," the mayor said.

Kelly's wife, Patricia Duffy, is an officer at Staten Island's 120th Precinct. They have two children, 2-year-old Sean and 9-month-old Christopher.

Kelly's three brothers are also cops: Danny is a sergeant in Manhattan's 1st Precinct, Jimmy is a detective with Staten Island narcotics and Tommy works for the Harbor Unit.

Patricia has two brothers in the NYPD; Brian Duffy works in the 123rd Precinct and John is assigned to the 120th Precinct. A sister is a retired cop and another brother is a firefighter.

"This family has served the city of New York and now, unfortunately, has been called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice for the people of the city of New York," Giuliani said.

He described Kelly as an "extremely dedicated" officer who was so intent on doing the best job he could that he paid for extra equipment out of his own pocket.

The NYPD had bestowed four medals for excellent police service on Kelly during the course of his career.

"Police Officer Kelly had a reputation of never, ever shirking his duties," Safir said. "He was always pursuing car thieves on Staten Island and that's what he was doing when he died."

Investigators were hunting for the driver of the stolen Suzuki last night. Safir said he expected the man would be charged with vehicular homicide if caught.

PBA President Pat Lynch said a stiffer penalty is warranted. "When you contribute to the death of a New York City police officer, you should be charged with murder," he said.

"He leaves behind two kids who are expecting him to come home tonight. How do we explain to them why their father is not coming home tonight or any night?"