Driver fined in crash that killed Nassau cop - FOX 13 News

Driver fined in crash that killed Nassau cop

Posted: Updated:

By FRANK ELTMAN | AP

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A Connecticut truck driver suspected of falling asleep on the Long Island Expressway, causing a crash that killed a police officer, walked out of a New York courtroom a free man on Thursday after a prosecutor said it was unlikely she could win a conviction on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

John Kaley, of New Britain, Conn., instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving stemming from the February 2011 crash. A judge revoked his license and fined him $500.

Turning to speak to Nassau County Police Officer Michael Califano's weeping widow and three sobbing young sons seated in the front row of the gallery in courtroom crowded with uniformed and plainclothes police officers, Kaley choked up. "There are no words to express how deeply sorry I am for the loss of Officer Califano," Kaley said before becoming overcome.

His attorney, William Petrillo, who had earlier expressed his own regrets to the grieving family, finished reading the statement. "Every day I wish I could change things, but I know that's impossible."

Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick said Kaley's flatbed truck slammed into a police cruiser with its lights flashing after Califano had stopped another motorist in Old Westbury around 11 p.m.

Although witnesses had described seeing Kaley weaving through traffic for two miles before the crash, McCormick said, it was unlikely that alone could win a conviction. She said prosecutors also found it was difficult to prove allegations that Kaley had fallen asleep.

McCormick cited the acquittal of a bus driver charged with criminally negligent homicide in a Bronx case last year. The driver in that case had also been suspected of falling asleep behind the wheel. Fifteen people died in that crash on I-95 in the Bronx as they were returning from a Connecticut casino. In that case, Ophadell Williams was found guilty on one count of aggravated unlicensed driving.

McCormick explained that in order to obtain a conviction in such cases, prosecutors must show "serious blameworthiness," ''moral blameworthiness," or "dangerous speeding."

She and Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said they would continue to lobby in Albany for legislation making it easier to get convictions in such cases.

Most people in the courtroom, including gruff-looking police officers and veteran journalists, became teary-eyed when McCormick read a statement on behalf of Califano's widow, Jackie. She hugged and wept with her sons Michael, 16, Christopher, 13, and Andrew, 8, while McCormick spoke.

"To this day I still hear my boys crying out, yelling for Daddy, when they were told the news. The pain we experienced is beyond description and continues to be.

"Michael, Christopher and Andrew now have to grow up without him. No more doing homework with his help. No more sports with him. No more family vacations. No more horsing around with dad. No dad for Father/Son Night at school. No dad at home to turn to when they need advice."

  • Long Island NewsLong Island NewsMore>>

  • Another company to give family free cruise

    Family of 5-year-old with cancer upset with cruise line

    Family of 5-year-old with cancer upset with cruise line

    Friday, July 25 2014 3:44 PM EDT2014-07-25 19:44:05 GMT
    A Long Island family is upset that a cruise line won't accommodate them after their 5-year-old son had to have emergency surgery for cancer. Nicolas Colucci and the rest of his family was supposed to go on a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway.
    A Long Island family is upset that a cruise line won't accommodate them after their 5-year-old son had to have emergency surgery for cancer. Nicolas Colucci and the rest of his family was supposed to go on a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway.
  • Dog found inside abandoned LI house

    Dog found inside abandoned LI house

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:03 AM EDT2014-07-25 11:03:02 GMT
    Officials say a dog found in an abandoned Long Island house was so matted and the nails so overgrown that the pooch could barely walk.
    Officials say a dog found in an abandoned Long Island house was so matted and the nails so overgrown that the pooch could barely walk.
  • Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:48:14 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices