Officer Hassiak to be memorialized

When Marilyn Hassiak first heard about plans to name a bridge in memory of her son, Donald Hassiak II, she said, "I think he would be pleased."

Officer Hassiak, 41, a Danbury police officer and New Milford resident, was killed in a hit-and-run accident June 3, 2010, as he rode his bicycle to work along Route 7 South in New Milford.

He left behind a wife, Kimberly, and three young sons -- Matthew, Luke and D.J.

State Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, who proposed the memorial, said because the late officer's boys are growing up in New Milford the memorial should be there.

It will be located at the Route 7 bridge crossing over Little Brook, about a half-mile south of Veterans Memorial Bridge.

"This is a good way for us to honor Officer Hassiak," Sen. McLachlan said Monday. "He was quite a guy and it was a terrible tragedy to loose such a fine officer. But the real tragedy is that a family has lost a caring father and husband."

Joining in support for the bill to establish the memorial were state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-30th) and state Rep. Clark Chapin (R-67th).

If the bill were to come before the state legislature early in the session, the memorial sign could be in place in a matter of months, Sen. McLachlan said. Sen. Roraback noted "such things are not taken lightly. The state reserves the right to honor people who've lived exemplary lives." The bridge would be called "Officer Donald Hassiak Memorial Bridge."

"We're proud that they're doing this," Marilyn Hassiak said. "Anyone who knew my son knew he devoted his life to his wife and family. He loved his town. At his funeral, one officer told me what he admired most about Donald was his integrity."

Officer Hassiak, a decorated officer, served in the Danbury Police Department for 16 years. He was an involved member of the New Milford community where he served as a coach for youth baseball.

James O'Neill, of Bethel, was charged in connection with the death. He allegedly drove away after hitting the officer.

Mr. O'Neill was charged with misconduct with a motor vehicle, evading responsibility and tampering with evidence. His case is now before the Superior Court of Danbury.