Nassau police on Friday mourned the loss of one of their own — a retired detective with three decades on the force who was struck and killed as he tried to cross a busy Carle Place street on foot.
Headed to a cellphone repair shop, Joseph G. Skowronski, 65, of Mineola, was walking across Old Country Road near Cherry Lane about 3:40 p.m. Thursday when he was hit by a car, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Waiting across the street was Rosemary Skowronski, who for 32 years had feared for her husband’s life, praying the phone wouldn’t ring with bad news.
Since his retirement in 2005, she had finally been at peace — only to lose him now.
“I’m heartbroken,” she said Friday. “In my heart it’s something that I’m having a lot of difficulty with. In my head, I know I have to accept it.”
Minutes before the accident, the couple had visited a Verizon store on Old Country Road to get him a new phone. Thinking it might be cheaper to fix his old phone instead, he decided to go to the repair shop for a price quote, she said.
She stayed behind, and moments later noticed police cars and an ambulance, lights flashing, in the street.
“It’s not him,” she told herself. “This is not happening.”
Police said Joseph Skowronski was hit as he attempted to cross in the middle of the block. There are no charges pending against the 18-year-old driver of the 1995 Nissan Maxima, who was not injured and remained at the scene, police said.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas C. Krumpter said in a statement that Skowronski, a decorated detective who investigated drug and homicide cases, was “deeply respected by his colleagues and everyone in our police family.”
Raised in Ozone Park and North Bellmore, Skowronski joined the force in 1973 after graduating with an English degree from St. John’s University, where he met his wife.
He was promoted to detective in 1991 and assigned to the Third Detective Squad and the Sixth Precinct, the department said.
“He always knew deep down in his heart, that was his calling,” his wife said.
He leaves behind two daughters: Diana Capobianco, 34, of North Bellmore, and Christina Stillwell, 38, of Kings Park.
Capobianco said her father adored his six grandchildren. “He liked to watch movies with them and eat candy with them,” she said.
He was “strong . . . on the outside but very, very soft and loving on the inside,” his wife said.
Glenn Ciccone, president of the Nassau County Police Department Detectives Association, said Skowronski continued to do volunteer work for the union after leaving the force.
“He recently called and said, ‘If you need anything, please let me know.’ He was always trying to help out,” Ciccone said.
In retirement, the couple enjoyed spending time at their second home in Riverhead overlooking Long Island Sound. His favorite pastimes were fishing and watching TV crime dramas.
After nearly 43 years of marriage, Rosemary Skowronski quipped, “As all couples do, we existed by bickering. He knew me and I knew him.”
But in an endearing way, he would tell her “he could never have survived without me,” recalled Skowronski, 65, a retired teacher.
How will she now survive without him?
“One day at a time,” she said, “with the help of a lot of loving family and friends.”
Visitation will be Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m., and Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Cassidy Funeral Home in Mineola. A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday at Church of Saint Anne in Garden City, with burial to follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale.
With Nicole Fuller