An off-duty Suffolk County police officer was killed early Friday morning in a crash along Jericho Turnpike in Commack, police said.
Patrick Curley, of Huntington, was driving an SUV west on Route 25, near Siracusa Boulevard, when his vehicle collided with a Winters Brothers garbage truck that was backing out of a business onto Route 25 at 3:33 a.m, according to police.
Curley, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. The driver of the garbage truck, James Jarosch, 59, was not injured.
Curley was a member of the Suffolk County Police Department for 17 years and served in the Second Precinct.
Insp. Edward Brady, commander of the Second Precinct, said Curley was a dedicated officer. “He was well respected and much loved by officers here,” Brady said. “Everyone warmed up to him and enjoyed him. He always had the best intereste of the community and the department."
”We lost an excellent officer and a terrific person," Brady said. "His passing is a terrible loss for the Second Precinct and the department.”
Brady said Curley enjoyed talking about, and “had obvious pride in his daughter.”
Curley had recently moved from overnight patrol duties in the Melville area to covering the Commack and Dix Hills area. Brady said Curley had been off from work for a couple of days when the accident occurred.
The SUV was impounded for a safety check and the garbage truck was inspected by Motor Carrier at the scene. Jarosch was issued summonses for unsafe backing and equipment violation, police said.
Tony Farina, the Long Island district manager for Winters Bros Waste Systems, Inc., said that Jarosch has worked for the company for the past eight years and has always been an upstanding employee, with a clean track record.
"He is an outstanding employee, probably one of our best. He comes in all of the time. His truck is always very clean. I have nothing bad to say about the gentleman," Farina said.
He said that the company is looking into how the accident occurred.
"The police are doing an investigation and we are also doing an investigation ourselves, but the way we understand it is that we were backing out of a business on the regular route and got rear ended by the vehicle."
Farina said that the company trucks all have back up alarms, cameras, lights and an audio mechanism to allow people to hear when they are backing up.
"As a company we extend our sympathies. Tragedies like this are an unfortunate part of what could happen. We take it very seriously, regardless of whose fault it was," he said.
Suffolk County police closed Jericho Turnpike in Commack in both directions until late Friday morning.
The investigation is continuing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact Fourth Squad detectives at 631-854-8452 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.