A retired NYPD officer from East Patchogue was killed Sunday while driving in Bayport after a wheel on his vehicle fell off, causing the SUV to flip and catch fire, police said.
Michael Schuierer, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene, Suffolk police said.
Schuierer was exiting Veterans Memorial Highway and heading east onto a Sunrise Highway service road when "the rear driver's side wheel came off, and he began to lose control of the Jeep," said Suffolk County Det. Sgt. Bryan McMenemy.
Police have impounded the vehicle and are investigating, McMenemy said.
Schuierer retired from the NYPD in 2010 after 18 years of service, said NYPD spokesman Sgt. Brendan Ryan.
He worked out of the 100th Precinct in Rockaway Beach, Ryan said.
Friends of Schuierer posted condolences to him on his Facebook page, expressing disbelief and recalling him as generous and kind to others.
"Always there for anyone that needed anything," wrote one Facebook friend.
Another wrote: "What a great guy, he would take his shirt off his back for you."
Another commenter recalled going through the police academy with Schuierer and noting his efforts helping the victims of superstorm Sandy.
Suffolk police said two people tried to remove Schuierer from the burning Jeep.
Steve Pfost, 27, a freelance photographer for Newsday and member of the East Farmingdale Volunteer Fire Company, was driving west on Sunrise Highway when he saw "smoke start to billow."
He parked his vehicle on the grassy median of Sunrise Highway and made his way to the service road, where the Jeep was ablaze. Pfost, along with volunteer firefighters from the Bohemia and Holbrook fire departments, worked to extinguish the fire and try to free Schuierer.
McMenemy said they were "very brave. . . . It just became too hot for them, and they couldn't help him."
With Lisa Irizarry
CORRECTION: The retired officer's age was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.