Thursday May 9, 2013 | By:Felice E. Krycia-associate editor | News
This past week a flag was flown at half mast beside a flower-covered Town of Evans patrol car in memory of Evans Police Officer Frederick Garrasi III, 24, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on Friday, May 3.
“This is such a shock to us all,” Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo told The Sun Tuesday (May 7). “Not only was he a great police officer, he was a great person and I don’t think that anyone who ever met him did not like him.”
In memory of Garrasi, the patrol car he often used was parked in the green space in front of the Evans Town Hall and was draped with crepe. Soon it was also bedecked with personal messages, photos and flowers in memory of Garrasi.
“The outpouring of sympathy from the public is amazing,” Masullo said.
The fatal accident occurred when Garrasi was off-duty and was on his way to a dentist appointment, Masullo said.
“He had worked his 12-hour shift, picking up his relief at 5:45 a.m. He went home, got a few hours of sleep and then got up for his appointment,” Masullo said.
At 12:13 p.m., Garrasi was traveling eastbound in the passing lane of Lake Shore Road when another vehicle entered onto the road from the intersection with Rogers Road, making a right turn on red, but coming all the way out into the passing lane, police said.
According to police, the motorcycle struck the rear driver-side of the vehicle, causing Garrasi to lose control and then he was ejected from the motorcycle onto the roadway of oncoming traffic.
Another vehicle traveling westbound in the passing lane of Lake Shore Road was unable to avoid the accident and struck the motorcycle and Garrasi, police officials said.
Garrasi was transported to Mercy Hospital, but died from his injuries within minutes of the accident, officials said.
The operator of the first vehicle, a 65-year-old female Hamburg resident was charged with moving from a lane unsafely and failure to yield the right-of-way at a right turn at a red signal. The second vehicle operator was not charged.
“In all the years I have been here (over 30 years) this is the second time we have lost a young officer in a motorcycle accident. You just don’t expect to have these type of losses,” Masullo said.
Off-duty Evans Police Officer Terry J. Addison was 32 when he was killed in a motorcycle accident at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002, when a pickup truck made a left-hand turn off Route 5 in front of him.
“In both cases Fred and Terry were just riding their motorcycles when someone else did something wrong and they paid the price,” Masullo said.
According to Masullo, Garrasi, a Lake Shore graduate, had wanted to be a police officer so much, he put himself through the pre-employment police basic training at Erie Community College. This program covers many aspects of basic police training and it does not require one to have been hired by a law enforcement agency. Once hired by a department, the person then needs to only complete an abbreviated training schedule to be certified.
“We had never hired anyone through this program before, but something just clicked when we met, so we hired him and we sent him back to get the final training,” Masullo said.
Garrasi was hired as a part-time police officer in December of 2011 and then was hired as a full-time police officer on Feb. 6, 2013. He had also worked for the Erie Community College Public Safety Department.
“He was dedicated to the job, was always willing to work whatever shift he was asked, was always on time, never called off and he showed that he cared,” Masullo said. “In the short time he was with us he had already earned a letter of commendation for a drug arrest he made on March 31.”
According to Masullo, after hiring Garrasi as a part-time officer he spoke to him about how many other part-time officers also work part-time at other police departments and how to best handle working that all in.
“He looked at me and said, ‘ I want to only work here, I want to dedicate my time here and I want to work for you,’ that really meant so much to me,” Masullo said, with emotion,
“He was one of the best hires I’ve made since I’ve been chief,” Masullo said. “We are all going to miss him so much.”