Off-Duty Police Officer Causes Fatal Accident Killing Fellow Officer
LINDEN, N.J. – Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad may have been driving drunk while off duty in the early morning hours of Friday, 20 March 2015, which resulted in the death of a fellow officer.
Police Officer Frank Viggiano was riding as a passenger in the car driven by Abad and was killed in the motor vehicle accident.
According to police reports, three off-duty New Jersey police officers were returning from a visit to a strip club when the accident occurred on New York City highway. Hours before the crash, Abad posted a photo of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as “Jack Daniels Fire on the house” on his Instagram page.
The photo also included a caption of a toast he had given. “The 3 of us, are decent people. There’s a decent woman out there for each of us. Sure it’s cool to be single every now and then, but I don’t give a damn what ANYONE says. At the end of the day, I want a family. I want to settle down. We all do. So here’s to finding that which we all hope for.”
Sadly, their vehicle crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer on the highway killing officer Viggiano, a civilian and critically injuring two policemen.
Linden Police Chief James Schulhafer said that an investigation is under way. Therefore, it is too early to speculate on what caused the accident.
Officer Viggiano and Joe Rodriguez, both 28-years-old, and passengers in the car, died in the crash. Rodriguez was a former county employee who was riding with the officers. Another police officer, 23-year-old Patrik Kudlac, was also a passenger in the vehicle. He and the driver, 27-year-old Pedro Abad, were both in critical condition and were taken to hospitals at Staten Island. Both of them were fighting for their lives and had severe extensive injuries.
The truck driver also suffered injuries in the crash, but they were not believed to be life-threatening.
According to the New York Police Department, investigators had Abad’s blood drawn and applied for a warrant to have the sample tested for blood alcohol levels.
A surveillance camera at a gas station recorded a video of a car traveling the wrong way on a service road just minutes before the wrong-way crash. The service road was adjacent to the highway and a southbound exit ramp lead from the highway onto the service road. This video was recorded at 4:48 a.m. and the crash on the highway was reported to 911 at 4:51 a.m.
Just before the crash, a tractor-trailer swerved out of the way of the car but a second tractor-trailer did not have enough time to veer away. The crash occurred on the West Shore Expressway on Staten Island.
The three officers involved in the crash were relatively new to the force. They were all unmarried without children. Abad was a six-year veteran, Viggiano was a five-year veteran and Kudlac had been on the job for two years.
Officer Frank Viggiano was a good person, well-liked by everyone. The incident is an unspeakable tragedy according to Royster.
Rodriguez’s family was also interviewed at their home in Linden. His father Angelo called his son “my pal” in the interview and said that they had planned to go trout fishing in two weeks. He said that his son was well-spoken and well-mannered and was always willing to help people. He also said that his son had lots of friends and loved basketball and fishing.
His father was not angry at the driver but was extremely saddened by his loss. He broke into tears at times while giving the interview. “It doesn’t matter if the driver was drinking because accidents happen,” he said. “I’m still in shock. He ain’t coming home no more.”
Joe’s uncle, Joseph Simone, was also interviewed. He described him as a family-oriented person. “He was too young. I was with him yesterday and he’s gone today,” Simone said.
“People are in a somber mood. I could see some officers with tears in their eyes. It is an emotional day for all of us. Like I said, we are a family and we’re all hurt by this,” Sarnicki said. “It’s tragic for people to lose their lives at such an early age, whatever the reason.”
News Source: www.Philly.com