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funeral

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Smithtown May 25 to say goodbye to one of New York’s bravest who was taken too soon.

A funeral was held Friday for New York City Police officer John Martinez,  of Hauppauge, who was killed in an upstate car crash earlier this week. One lane of East Main Street was closed as a full police motorcade escorted Martinez’s body from Saint James Funeral Home to the funeral Mass celebrated at St. Patrick R.C. Church.

Martinez was killed in a single-car crash with fellow NYPD officer and Huntington Station resident Michael Colangelo, 31, a single-car crash May 20 in Shandaken. New York State police said Martinez was driving a 2018 Maserati southbound on Oliveria Road at approximately 11:23 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle, striking a large tree and flipping the car. The vehicle came to a stop on its roof.

Colangelo and Martinez were pronounced dead at the scene. A third passenger was transported to Albany Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to state police spokesman Trooper Steven Nevel.

Colangelo was a member of the NYPD’s canine unit who had married his sweetheart, Katherine Berger, earlier that day at the Full Moon Resort in the Hudson Valley. Martinez worked for the NYPD’s 84th Precinct’s detective squad.

The men had departed from Full Moon Resort, but their planned destination was not known, according to Nevel. He said the stretch of Oliveria Road is very rural, curves and has no street lighting. State police said based on skid marks left on the roadway that the vehicle was traveling well in excess of the posted 40 mph speed limit at the time of the accident.

“We don’t know the exact speed they were going at this time,” Nevel said. “We are looking to get that information from the black box of the Maserati.”

State police said they did not know if drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the deadly crash, but an investigation remains ongoing. An autopsy of the driver was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 21, but the
results would not be immediately available.

“We’ve interviewed several people at the wedding reception, and everyone was very distraught,” Nevel said.

Colangelo and his wife had planned to travel to Costa Rica for their honeymoon, according to their www.honeyfund.com site, which read, “We’ve lived together quite a while with all our pots and pans, and as we don’t need very many home goods we’ve got another plan. We know it’s not traditional, but it would be a lot of fun, to have some items on our wedding list that will help us catch some sun.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or has information on the events of May 20 is encouraged to contact the state police’s Catskill barracks Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 518-622-8600.

 

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Thousands of mourners, firefighters, family and friends lined the streets of Kings Park Saturday morning to say their farewells and pay final respects to U.S. airman Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, also a New York City and Commack firefighter.

“A hero is a person who is admired for their courage, for their outstanding achievements, for their noble qualities,” said Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of New York. “Lieutenant Christopher Raguso was a hero in every sense of the word, and the way he lived his life.”

“Lieutenant Christopher Raguso was a hero in every sense of the word, and the way he lived his life.”
— Daniel Nigro

Firefighters standing up to five and six-men deep lined Raguso’s funeral processional route from Clayton’s Funeral Home to St. Joseph’s Church in Kings Park. The church and parish hall were both filled to capacity as the funeral service for Raguso got underway March 31. Thousands more stood outside watching a jumbotron simulcast of the service from the streets and nearby houses.

Raguso was one of seven members of New York’s 106th rescue unit killed in the line-of-duty March 15 when a H-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while carrying out a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, an American-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the United States Department of Defense. The DOD said the cause of the crash is under investigation, but did not appear to be the result of enemy activity.

“When men like Chris pass, we are forced to reflect on our own worthiness,” said Lieutenant Christopher Gorzynski of the FDNY. “Deep down, we know we will never measure up to the bar that he has set. Chris just gave us so much more than we gave him.”

Raguso had served deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Africa and more recently, two answered domestic calls to action to help victims of hurricanes Harvey and Maria. In January 2018, he started his second tour in Iraq.

“He had promised everyone this would be his last time going to war — how prophetic,” said his father, John Raguso.

“Celebrities show off, heroes show up. Chris always showed up.
— Rev. Sean Gann

The father recalled his son’s passion and devotion to serving others in a 12-minute eulogy he referred to as “the most difficult task of my life.” Raguso said his son’s caring nature was evident early in life, when at age 4 on a family trip to the Dominican Republican he took off the shirt and shorts he was wearing to give to a local boy.

“We knew early on that Chris was on a flight path all his own,” his father said.

Raguso joined the Commack Fire Department in 2000. He served as captain of Company 2 before stepping up as lieutenant of Company 4, located off Kings Park Road. Raguso was posthumously bestowed the rank of honorary fire chief based on a unanimous vote of the Commack Fire Department’s membership March 16.

“Celebrities show off, heroes show up,” said Rev. Sean Gann of St. Joseph’s Church. “Chris always showed up.”

Raguso was also a 13-year veteran of the FDNY, where he served the majority of his career with Ladder Company 113 in Brooklyn. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and was stationed with Battalion 50 in Queens at the time of his death. On six different occasions, he was cited for bravery and life-saving actions either for his individual actions or as part of a unit.

“That’s because Chris didn’t know how not to give 100 percent of himself,” Gorzynski said.

“Chris’s legacy is hallmarked by a life of service so that others may live.”
— Lee Zeldin

His fellow firefighter recalled him as a “gentle giant” who was known not only for his heroic acts but loving messages, bestowing nicknames and “goofball antics we can only tell now in stories and laughter,” according to Gorzynski.

“Chris’s legacy is hallmarked by a life of service so that others may live,” said U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in his eulogy.

Zeldin, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) were among the host of federal, state and town elected officials who attended the ceremony but did not publicly speak.

At the end of the funeral service, four Nassau County helicopters performed a flyover in honor of Raguso which was followed by a moment of silence. Bagpipers played “America the Beautiful” as the procession headed to Calverton National Cemetery in Wading River to his interment with full military honors.

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Wake services to be held March 29 and 30 at Commack Fire Department

A U.S. Air Force carry team transfers the remains of Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, of Commack, March 18 at Dover Air Force Base. Photo from U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Matt Davis

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Suffolk County police and Smithtown Town officials have announced several road closures in advance of the funeral services for Air National Guard Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso.

Police will close one lane of Jericho Turnpike between Valmont Avenue and Commack Road in Commack on March 29 and 30 between noon and approximately 10 p.m.

Indian Head Road will be closed between Kings Park Road and Old Dock Road March 31 from 8 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. Church Street, portions of Old Dock Road and portions of Route 25A will also be closed.

Smithtown Town officials announced there will be road closures in Kings Park along the ceremony route. It will start at Clayton Funeral Home on Meadow Road south to Old Northport Road March 31, starting as early as 9 a.m. The funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Clayton Funeral Home, located at 25 Meadow Road in Kings Park.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) has asked all residents to plan accordingly and to please have patience out of respect for the Raguso family and friends. Heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic is expected and motorists are advised to find alternate routes.

In lieu of flowers, donations are being collected online to benefit Raguso’s daughters via the FDNY Foundation.  All who wish to contribute can do so by visiting: www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate. Visitors can scroll down to the “Fund” column and click on the “Scholarship Fund to Benefit the Children of FDNY Lieutenant Christopher Raguso” from the drop-down menu.

This post will be updated with additional road closures as more information becomes available.