A beloved Yonkers police sergeant was killed in a crash Thursday when a 16-year-old, who was speeding and only got his learner permit two weeks ago, lost control of his sports car, police said.
Sgt. Frank Gualdino was recalled by police Commissioner Christopher Sapienza as a "cop's cop," a 24-year veteran who was scheduled to retire in August.
"Frank was a great guy. He was a personal friend, he was an asset to this job, he was a credit to this job and he was a credit to the community," Sapienza said at a press conference Friday morning at police headquarters. "This is a tragic, tragic loss for us."
Gualdino, 53, was mortally wounded at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday as he drove his unmarked police car west on the Tuckahoe Road overpass of the Sprain Brook Parkway. The teenager's eastbound BMW M5 crossed the yellow lines and struck Gualdino's car and a Westchester County Bee-Line bus. Gualdino and the teenager were the only occupants of their cars.
The sergeant was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where he was pronounced dead.
A dashcam video from another eastbound motorist was played at the press conference. It showed the BMW speeding by that car, spinning into oncoming traffic and just missing a U-Haul van. Police stopped the video just before the sideways BMW smashed into the bus and Gualdino's car.
"We lost a great friend and a great cop," Sapienza said.
Sapienza said a full investigation was ongoing into the cause of the accident but that preliminary findings suggested it was a result of reckless driving by a novice driver who couldn't handle the "extremely fast sports car."
The teenager, a Yonkers resident who police have not identified, remains in critical condition. The bus driver and some of the passengers were treated for minor injuries.
Child's life saved
Gualdino, of Mahopac, had a wife, a daughter in college and a teenage son. He joined the department in 1998 and was promoted to sergeant in 2019, becoming a supervisor in the traffic unit.
It was in that role at a funeral detail on Oct. 27, that he helped save the life of a 3-year-old boy. The boy was at his grandfather's funeral at St. John's Church when he became unconscious. Gualdino rushed him in his police car to the hospital. In a letter to Sapienza thanking Gualdino and other officers for their efforts, the boy's aunt said the sergeant returned to the hospital after the funeral procession to check on the boy.
Mayor Mike Spano mourned the loss of a decorated officer who was well respected in the department and the community — a city that might be the third largest in New York but is close knit enough for everyone to be hit hard by Gauldino's death.
He also spoke of the teenager fighting for his life and the tragedy that boy's family is facing.
"We were all 16 once. We have teenagers in our families," Spano said.
Sapienza called it "the most horrible loss that we've sustained" and for a department with more than 600 officers, Yonkers has experienced few deaths in the line of duty in the past half century.
Two Yonkers cops, Officer Anthony Maggiore and Lt. Roy McLaughlin, died of 9/11 related illnesses in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The last line-of-duty death of a Yonkers police officer before that came Sept. 30, 1982, when Officer John Silinsky died of a gunshot wound suffered four days earlier when he foiled a robbery while off duty.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Yonkers Sgt. Frank Gualdino killed in crash with teenage driver