In mourning: East Fishkill officer killed in Taconic crash is department’s first line-of-duty death
East Fishkill is in mourning following the first line-of-duty death in the history of the town's police department.
Officer Daniel DiDato's end of watch came Monday evening after his cruiser veered off the Taconic Parkway. East Fishkill police said Didato was heading south toward Westchester Medical Center to interview a victim of an earlier accident just after 6 p.m. when his cruiser struck a tree.
DiDato was rushed to Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital where he later died.
"It's just an extremely difficult time for everyone," said East Fishkill Town Supervisor Nicholas D'Alessandro, a friend of DiDato's since the two were in high school.
D'Alessandro said DiDato's was the town's first ever officer to be lost in the line of duty. For much of Tuesday, friends and officers added to flowers at the base of a flagpole outside the police department.
"We're just very heartbroken and sad," said Markella Mustakas, owner of the Smoke Haus & Deli, where Didato was a regular. "We've known him for years as a customer, just coming in here. We were family-friends with him for a long time. It was just a shock for everybody."
One mourner was an officer who drove from New York City to pay respects.
"[There were] many, many officers of our police department and many police officers from our surrounding departments, sheriff's office, state police -- the outpouring of support was tremendous," D'Alessandro said during a phone interview Tuesday morning.
DiDato started his career in 2001 as an officer with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. He then joined East Fishkill Police Department in 2005 where he served for nearly 19 years.
EFPD's headquarters was empty Tuesday. New York State Police and the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office volunteered to respond to all East Fishkill's police calls to EFPD officers time to grieve and process.
New York State Police is handling the crash investigation and have not yet released any information about the cause of the crash.