Christopher Hlavaty was a volunteer firefighter with the Hagerman Fire...

Christopher Hlavaty was a volunteer firefighter with the Hagerman Fire Department in East Patchogue. Credit: Janine Hlavaty

Janine Hlavaty worried when her 22-year-old son, Christopher, a volunteer with the Hagerman Fire Department, told her of his plans to buy a motorcycle this past weekend.

It wasn't Christopher's skills that worried her, she told Newsday. It was those drivers on the road who “have no respect for people or motorcycles.”

About 10:45 p.m. Monday night, according to Suffolk County police, it may have been one of those drivers who turned off  Main Street in East Patchogue, crashing into Christopher Hlavaty as he rode east on his newly purchased Suzuki. 

The driver, in what witnesses described as a late-model, dark-colored sedan, never stopped after hitting Hlavaty, police said, instead continuing south on Rider Avenue.

Hlavaty was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

“He’s going to be so missed,” Janine Hlavaty said of the younger of her two sons, before quickly adding:

“ ‘Missed’ doesn’t even cover it. I’ll never be the same person again.”

She described her son as the type of man “who would give you the shirt off his back.”

Even in death, he's giving to others, she said.

Several of his organs will be donated, including his heart, eyes, skin and bones.

Hagerman Fire Chief Tim Dunham said Hlavaty joined the department two years ago. While the first year is usually one of the toughest for a new firefighter, Hlavaty thrived in training and classes and taking on his responsibilities.

Just last month, Hlavaty was recognized as Rookie of the Year by the department

“He was one of those people who was going to stick with this for the majority of his life,” said Dunham, estimating that Hlavaty responded to a majority of the department's 500 calls last year.

The firehouse became Hlavaty’s second home, Dunham said. He wanted to be there when a call came in.

“Whether it was 6 o'clock at night or 6 o'clock in the morning, you would see him,” Dunham said. “He would always make sure he said hello to everybody, always made sure you say goodbye."

Dunham said the death hits hard. “We lost a brother,” the chief said.

A graduate of Sayville High School, Christopher Hlavaty had plans to join the Air National Guard and one day be an FDNY firefighter. 

He was planning a future with his girlfriend too, who, Janine Hlavaty noted, was the “love of his life.” 

Mother and son were close, she said. Christopher lived at home and the two monitored each other's locations through GPS tracking.

“He would always say, ‘I love you so much,’ ” his mother said.

With John Asbury

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