They came Monday to remember five police officers killed or injured by drunken drivers while on duty.
The relatives and supporters of Nassau police officer Kenneth Baribault and Suffolk police Officer Glen Ciano gathered at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City Monday to unveil a memorial intended to remind drivers during the holiday season that the "stupid decision" to drive drunk could ruin many lives - including the lives of police officers such as Baribault and Ciano, both of whose patrol cars were struck while on duty.
The memorial was unveiled at the mall less than 12 hours after Michael Bowen of Brooklyn was charged with driving while intoxicated in the wrong-way crash on the Northern State Parkway that killed NYPD Officer Andre Menzies of North Babylon early Monday.
Baribault is recovering from the May 2008 crash and attended the memorial launch, though he cannot speak well or walk unassisted. The driver who struck Baribault's car was convicted of DWI. Ciano died in the February 2009 crash. A Plainview man is awaiting trial on DWI and vehicular manslaughter charges in Ciano's death.
The memorial also showcases three other officers from upstate New York who were injured or killed in collisions with drunken drivers since 2002.
"Five heroes. Five families. Five tragedies that didn't have to happen," said assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick, as she urged the public to absorb the memorial's lessons. "Take a look at what this stupid decision has cost us."
Sue Ciano, Glen's widow, said she wanted the message to permeate the holiday season, which is forever changed for her. "The Christmas morning traditions are not the same," she said. "It's difficult at family gatherings."
The memorial showcases photos of the five officers, newspaper articles, and memorabilia such as Baribault's police hat and the photos he carried of his son Christopher.
The placement of the memorial at the mall, on the cusp of the busy holiday shopping season, ensures a large audience, said Baribault's sister Danielle Rella. "You reach all ages. You get a wide variety of people," she said.
The memorial, created by a professor at SUNY-Institute of Technology in Utica, has been exhibited upstate and will stay at Roosevelt Field through the end of the week. Volunteers, including relatives of Ciano and Baribault, will explain the exhibit to shoppers and passerby.
The exhibit is located in the Macy's Court near the Disney Store. With John Valenti