Wall Street Journal
September 22, 2014


New York Police Officer Dies in Van Crash

Accident Claims Life of 25-Year-Old Rookie; Eight Others Hurt but Expected to Recover

By  and YONI BASHAN

    
Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal  
Police stand at attention on Sunday as an ambulance carrying the body of Officer Michael Williams leaves Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. 

 

A rookie New York Police Department officer was killed and eight other officers were injured after their police van hit a traffic barrier in the Bronx on Sunday morning, police said.

Officer Michael Williams, 25 years old, died after being ejected through a window of the 2009 Ford Econoline van, marked as a police vehicle. Mr. Williams graduated from the police academy in January.

"We lost one of our finest and we lost one of our newest," Mayor Bill de Blasio said after visiting the precinct where Mr. Williams and the injured officers are stationed.

    
NYPDl  
Officer Michael Williams, who died Sunday
 

Preliminary findings by the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad found the vehicle was traveling westbound on Bruckner Boulevard around 5 a.m. when it moved from the left-hand lane to the right-hand lane and hit the concrete traffic barrier.

It then careened about 92 feet before coming to a stop, said NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks.

"Sometime during this process and we believe it was early on," Mr. Banks said, Officer Williams was ejected from the vehicle.

Investigators are looking into the weather conditions at the time of the accident—it rained on Sunday morning—the vehicle's speed, which officers inside the van were wearing a seat belt, and whether the seat belts were in good working condition, officials said.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

    
Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal  
The crashed NYPD van on Bruckner Boulevard on Sunday.
 

Mr. de Blasio was scheduled to fly with Police Commissioner William Bratton to the home of Officer Williams's mother, Joann, and father, Michael, in the Dutchess County town of Poughquag on Sunday.

Mr. Williams, an only child, came from a police family, his uncle Gary Johanson said.

Mr. Williams's father, Michael Williams Sr., has been a police officer for the past 32 years with the Carmel Police Department, said Mr. Johanson, who is also a longtime officer with that department.

"We're all police guys," Mr. Johanson said.

"Myself, Mike Williams Sr., and two or three other guys were the senior guys of the department. We were getting ready for retirement and now we're getting ready for a funeral," he said, adding his nephew was "a great kid."

"It's a tragedy in our family, this is uncharted waters for us," he said.