The New York Times

July 18, 2000

Officer Chasing Motorcyclist Dies After a Car Crash


A police officer pursuing a suspected motorcycle thief in a high-speed chase was killed yesterday when his unmarked patrol car spun out of control and hit a utility pole along a service road to the Staten Island Expressway, officials said.

Investigators said Officer John M. Kelly, driving alone, had been racing to catch the motorcycle when his car veered off Gulf Avenue in the Bloomfield section about 1:20 p.m. and crashed into a wooden utility pole, which became deeply imbedded in the driver's side of the vehicle.

Officer Kelly suffered multiple injuries, including head injuries. Doctors at St. Vincent's Medical Center on Staten Island worked to keep him alive, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said. But he was pronounced dead at 4:55 p.m. His wife, Patricia, who is also a police officer, and other family members were at his side.

"They kept him alive long enough so his mother could be here with him," Mr. Giuliani said, looking weary, as he stood outside the hospital with Police Commissioner Howard Safir moments after the officer died.

Officer Kelly, 31, an eight-year veteran who was assigned to the Auto Larceny Unit on Staten Island, was the second officer killed in the line of duty this year. The other, Officer David Regan, 28, died in May when his patrol car collided with a newspaper delivery truck at a Brooklyn intersection.

In describing their grief yesterday, officials spoke not only about Officer Kelly's dedication, which was evident, they said, in the four police decorations he had received, but also of his family's contributions to the city's public safety.

In addition to his wife, who is assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island, and their two boys, 9 months and 2 years old, Officer Kelly is survived by three brothers who are New York City police officers, officials said. And his wife has two brothers on the force, a sister who recently retired from the Police Department and a brother who is a city firefighter.