Updated 11/08/2012 07:56 PM
Off-Duty Officer Who Died During Sandy Laid To Rest
A police officer killed during Sandy was laid to rest Thursday on Staten Island. NY1's Mara Montalbano filed the following report.
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Hundreds of police officers lined York Avenue in New Brighton Thursday morning to honor one of their own.
Officer Artur Kasprzak died last week, one of the more than 20 people on Staten Island who lost their lives to Sandy.
"He smiled all the time," said Tom Kowalski, a friend of Kasprzak. "He was just the greatest, greatest hero, a great, great, great young man. We lost a great person in this world."
Kasprzak, 28, was off duty and at home in South Beach the night the storm hit.
Police say he rushed his family to safety in the attic and then went into the flooded basement but never returned.
Live electrical wires forced firefighters to wait to retrieve his submerged body.
His funeral mass was held at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, where Kasprzak was once an altar boy.
Venceslau D'Silva, a deacon there who was Kasprzak's religion teacher, said he was heartbroken to hear of his passing.
"We were traveling together, like in the ferry," D'Silva said. "He was going to Queens and I was going to my hospital in Brooklyn. We used to have lovely conversations, and I could see the spirit bubbling in him to help others."
Kasprzak was assigned to the First Precinct in Manhattan. He was on the job for six years. Prior to that, he volunteered as an auxiliary police officer in Staten Island's 122nd Precinct for a year and a half.
Those who knew him said Officer Kasprzak died the way he lived, helping others first.
"He is my hero in a sense," D'Silva said. "This man had such love for his neighbor, of course, that also comes from God, that he was not afraid to scarifice his own life."
"It's a big loss, big loss for our community, for police, and for family," said church organist Alicia Kenig.
Kasprzak will not soon be forgotten. He was featured in a poster which once hung in the police academy, reminding incoming officers of the priorities of the job.