The LIE overpass on New Hyde Park Road in North Hills was renamed Sunday for a Nassau County police officer killed in the line of duty on the highway in 2012.
More than 120 officers, family members and friends attended the dedication ceremony, held at Nassau County Police Headquarters in Mineola, for what will now be called the Joseph P. Olivieri Jr. Memorial Bridge. Later on, the unveiling of the actual sign took place on the Long Island Expressway in North Hills.
"There are very few people that have the courage and have the calling to be willing to give their lives for others, and he gave his life," James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, said.
Anyone who enters the county will know his name, he added.
Neither Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano nor the Olivieri family spoke during the dedication.
"I'm just happy to see that . . . [his life] is being dedicated. It doesn't get any easier," Joseph Olivieri, 68, of Ronkonkoma, his father, said in an interview afterward.
Sobbing as he spoke, he added, "He'll always be in my heart; he always smiled when he came home."Mangano said afterward that county residents won't soon forget the fallen officer.
"It reminds us all of the dangers each and every officer faces in the line of duty. It remembers specifically the dedication of Joseph Olivieri to his job and to the safety of the people in Nassau County," Mangano said.
Olivieri, 43, a 13-year veteran of the department from Middle Island, was struck on the LIE in North Hills as he was responding to a car wreck caused by an alleged drunken driver.
James Ryan, 25, of Oakdale, faces numerous charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated and traffic violations. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to police, Ryan, who prosecutors say had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, struck a car but kept driving until he stopped abruptly and was rear-ended by another car.
When Olivieri responded to the scene to help, the officer crossed the highway on foot and was hit by another vehicle, police said. The driver of that vehicle is not expected to be charged with a crime.