Funeral services were held Friday in Lindenhurst for an off-duty NYPD officer who was killed when his pickup truck, stopped in the right traffic lane of the Long Island Expressway, was struck from behind by a box truck.
"We want you to know that your loss is our loss; your pain is our pain," Msgr. Robert J. Romano, the NYPD's deputy chief chaplain, told the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Joseph Pritchard.
About 900 people packed into Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church on Wellwood Avenue for the half-hour service.
The hearse carrying Pritchard's body was escorted to the church by a motorcade led by a marked NYPD Highway Unit, and Suffolk County police and NYPD motorcycle officers.
Uniformed NYPD officers marched on each side of the hearse as it proceeded north on Wellwood, which was closed to other traffic for two blocks south of West Hoffman Avenue. Outside the church, about 500 uniformed officers stood at attention.
Other officers -- many from Pritchard's command, the midtown South Precinct on the west side of Manhattan -- formed an honor guard on the church steps.
The service was held on Good Friday, observed as the day Christ died, and the altar had been stripped bare of any ornamentation until Easter Sunday.
Pritchard, 30, a North Babylon resident who had been a high-school football star in Lindenhurst, was killed Monday when his 2008 Dodge pickup was struck from behind by a large truck, setting both vehicles on fire. The truck driver was hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are continuing to investigate why Pritchard's vehicle was stopped in the road. "A medical issue is certainly a viable concern," said Det. Lt. William Burke of the Suffolk police Second Precinct.
Friday's service included hymns, gospel readings and remarks from Romano, who told folksy tales, some referencing his Italian-American upbringing.