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Truck driver pleads guilty in crash that killed cop

February 21, 2013 3:10:22 PM PST
A driver who crashed into a Nassau County police cruiser on a dangerous stretch of the Long Island Expressway in 2011, killing the officer, pleaded guilty to reduced charges Thursday morning.

John Kaley, a flatbed truck driver from New Britain, Connecticut, was accused of being asleep at the wheel at the time of the February 4, 2011, crash, near exit 39 in Old Westbury.

The collision claimed the life of Officer Michael J. Califano, a 13-year veteran.

Califano had pulled over a box truck on the LIE near exit 39 for insufficient lighting. As Officer Califano was sitting in his patrol car writing a summons, Kaley crashed into him from behind.

The force of the impact pushed the patrol car under the box truck and knocked the box truck into traffic. The flatbed truck ended up on top of the police car. It took rescuers 30 minutes to cut through the roof of the patrol car and remove the officer.

Officer Califano was taken to the Nassau University Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

Kaley was arrested and charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide, three counts of assault and failure to move over for an emergency vehicle.

The district attorney had asked to dismiss the charge of criminally negligent homicide and allow Kaley to plead guilty to reckless driving. The judge accepted the deal.

Califano is survived by his wife and three children.

That crash and others led to calls for changes in the roadway to make it safer for law enforcement officials making routine traffic stops.

State transportation officials pledged to construct 10 emergency pull-off areas, five in each direction, to make it safer for police doing traffic stops on the narrow western portion of the expressway.

The Glen Cove Road overpass that crosses over the expressway at the location of the crash was renamed "Police Officer Michael J. Califano Memorial Bridge."

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