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One-Year Anniversary Mass Honors Fallen Cliffside Park Police Officer

Attendees including his father, Ron (left), honored Cliffside Park Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello.
Attendees including his father, Ron (left), honored Cliffside Park Police Officer Stephen Petruzzello. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
In front of the altar at Epiphany Church in Cliffside Park.
In front of the altar at Epiphany Church in Cliffside Park. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
The ceremony was solemn.
The ceremony was solemn. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Epiphany Church
Epiphany Church Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Churchgoers view Stephen Petruzzello's car, which his father customized after his death.
Churchgoers view Stephen Petruzzello's car, which his father customized after his death. Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. -- Dozens gathered at a Cliffside Park church on a soggy Tuesday morning on the first anniversary of the death of 22-year-old borough police Officer Stephen Petruzzello, who was struck and killed by an SUV while on patrol.

“It’s raining now, but It should clear up later,” said Petruzzello’s father, Ron, who attended the service at Epiphany Church with his wife, family and friends.

A second Mass was scheduled for 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace Church in Fairview, followed by a candlelight vigil at Walker Street near John Street in Cliffside Park where Petruzzello and partner Thaier “Theo” Abdallah were struck while working as special police officers. ALSO SEE: Ron Petruzzello watched proudly Tuesday night as spotlights bathed an American flag raised by Cliffside Park firefighters near the spot where his son, Officer Stephen Petruzzello, was struck and killed while on patrol a year ago. READ MORE....

Barely a month out of the Bergen County Police Academy, the Class 1 special officers were walking a beat near the Palisade Avenue sub-precinct, where they were stationed, when they were hit by a Honda CRV driven by borough resident Anie Kalayian.

Kalayian was headed east toward Palisade Avenue when her vehicle hit the officers, knocking Petruzzello an estimated 25 feet, law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time.

Abdallah recovered, but Petruzzello died at the hospital a day and a half later. Borough officials that same day made the bright, hard-working and supremely dedicated public servant a full-time officer. They gave his family Badge #133.

Kalayian, a trauma expert and author who was in the SUV with her 93-year-old mother, told police that she didn’t see Petruzzello and Abdallah. She received several summonses, later took a plea and was fined $378 and four points off her license.

Rev. Ken Evans led Tuesday morning's Mass and addressed a silent and solemn crowd.

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