Mr. Kneeland, 62, had been in an institutional care setting but was constantly cared for by his mother, Susan, until her death in 2010. Since then, his brother, Timothy Kneeland, and sisters, Kathleen M. DelloStritto and Susan Carrigan, had taken over the care.
|Peter Kneeland gets a kiss from his brother Timothy Kneeland during Peter's 60th birthday celebration in 2010. (T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR)|
“This was a particularly heartbreaking incident 21 years ago,” said Deputy Police Chief Edward J. McGinn Jr. “It is quite possibly one of the worst nights in the history of the department. We're especially moved by the level of care and commitment that Peter's mother and siblings have shown him since the accident.”
The same night Mr. Kneeland was struck by a hit-and-run driver, another Worcester police officer was shot. The shooting was not fatal.
The driver who hit Mr. Kneeland was arrested days later and convicted of causing the accident.
Deputy Chief McGinn informed the department Monday of Mr. Kneeland's death. He said the retired officer's death came about as a direct result of a job-related incident. Mr. Kneeland was critically injured in the accident and had extensive head injuries.
“As a result of his injuries, Officer Kneeland lapsed into a condition that he never fully recovered from,” Deputy Chief McGinn wrote in his notification to personnel. “Even though alert and able to recognize his family and friends, Officer Kneeland's injures left him unable to speak and confined to a wheelchair. Officer Kneeland was never able to return to active work and officially retired in 1998.”
A wake and funeral have been planned, and Worcester police will send an honor guard.
In September 2010, family, friends and police attended a 60th birthday party for Mr. Kneeland inside Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center on Plantation Street. The retired officer sat in his wheelchair with a brand-new Worcester police baseball cap.
At the time of the party, Mr. Kneeland's family said his right arm area was paralyzed and he was unable to speak. During the party Mr. Kneeland appeared to react when names of certain officers were told to him.
“He's definitely aware of his surroundings,” Mrs. Carrigan, his sister, said at the time.