Officer Michael Califano's widow's statement
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Prosecutor Maureen McCormick read the victim's impact statement at the court proceeding of John Kaley, 27, the Connecticut driver who two years ago fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his tow truck into a Nassau County police car stopped on the LIE, killing Officer Michael Califano.
McCormick read the following statement on behalf of the victim's widow:
Honorable Judge O'Brien,
My name is Jackie Califano, and Officer Michael J. Califano was my husband and the father to our three sons, Michael, 16, Christopher, 13. and Andrew, 8.
On Feb. 4, 2011, just before midnight, I got a knock at my door that would change my life forever. Four police officers were standing outside. I was told my husband had been hurt and I needed to go with them. When I got to the hospital there were police cars everywhere and my heart sank. I knew it was bad.
I was told my husband was in an accident and due to his injuries. He did not make it . . . My husband was gone. I was numb. How was I going to live without him? I sat beside him that night with my face on his chest, holding him, crying uncontrollably . . . hoping to just wake from a bad dream. I was told that, while driving a tow truck, Mr. John Kaley lost control and hit my husband's patrol car, killing him. Because of Mr. Kaley's negligence my husband lost his life, my children lost their father, and we all lost a man who meant the world to us.
Later that night I went home devastated, destroyed and wanting to die myself. How do I tell three small boys that Daddy is never coming home? I was awake all night trying to prepare myself for what I had to say to them. How would I stay strong for them? The next morning, as I sat on the floor in my oldest son, Michael's, room, I cried while he slept. How will I tell them Daddy is gone? To this day I still hear my boys crying out yelling for Daddy when they were told the news. The pain we experienced is beyond description and continues to be.
Michael, Christopher and Andrew now have to grow up without him. No more doing homework with his help. No more sports with him. No more family vacations. No more horsing around with dad. No dad for "father/son night" at school. No dad at home to turn to when they need advice.
My husband died two weeks before our oldest son's 14th birthday. Mike was a "Mr. Mom," as I worked full time during the day. He took care of all the boys' needs while I was at work.
I am no longer able to work as a result of his death. My husband will not be at their high school or college graduations. He will not get to see them grow into men and get married and have children of their own. Our sons have to go on with life without their Dad . . . their best friend. We have all lost a piece of ourselves when he died.
There have been so many sleepless nights and two years later there continues to be . . . How am I going to raise three boys alone? I never thought I would grow old without Michael in my life, right by my side. He was the rock . . . He took care of everything. He always came up with the "solution" to the problem. He was going to be the one to teach the boys how to shave and drive a car . . . and now I am left to do it all alone because Mr. Kaley didn't choose to make a responsible decision to stop and rest when he was so tired.
Michael would light up a room with his smile . . . Look at my sons. I thank God that they have his smile. He was a friend to everyone. He would do anything for anyone, always with a smile and a "no problem!" and Mr. Kaley took that away from all of us. He was a respected big brother to his two brothers and two sisters who was always looked up to by them. My in-laws had to bury their oldest son, a painful experience that no parent should have to go through. I know all too well that burying a child goes against the natural order of things, as Michael and I had to bury our daughter.
Your Honor, you cannot take the day-to-day pain away from my broken heart. You cannot ease my mind at night when it's reliving that horrible night back in February 2011. And you cannot give Michael back to us. The only thing you can do is give us justice by holding Mr. Kaley accountable for my husband's death.