Anastasios Tsakos, the NYPD officer who was killed by an allegedly drunk and speeding driver on the Long Island Expressway last week, was one of a kind, recalled Lt. John Pappas, commanding officer of the city's Transit Bureau K-9 unit.
Thousands turned out to pay their respects to the 14-year department veteran and father of two young children at St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church, on Monday afternoon.
"We are going to the do the best we can to be there for him, for his family, for his parents," Pappas said.
"That family just inherited … 35,000 moms and dads for those kids."
Tsakos' coffin was escorted by police vehicles, ambulances and motorcycles.
Chopper 2 is overhead as the body of NYPD Officer Anastasios Tsakos is transported for today's viewing on Long Island. https://cbsloc.al/2QQVgRFWatch more on CBSN New York: http://cbsloc.al/cbsnnewyork
Posted by CBS New York on Monday, May 3, 2021
Pappas, who has known Tsakos since he joined the department, said it's a "heartbreaking" time for anyone who knew the man known affectionately as 'Tasso.'
"He tried to help his friends. He helped me personally; helped a lot of other people," Pappas added.
"Very quietly in the background. And wanted zero recognition for it. Just wanted to be there for his friends and family. And that's why it's such a potent loss because he was a dynamite guy."
Tsakos was fatally struck by 32-year-old Jessica Beauvais, while diverting traffic from a previous fatal crash on the Long Island Expressway in Queens.
Beauvais is now facing 13 criminal charges and both confessed and apologised as she was walked out of the police precinct."I'm sorry that I hit him and that he's dead," she said tearfully.
Anastasios Tsakos’ family worried about the veteran NYPD highway officer’s safety but understood his devotion to the profession.
“You worry all the time,” his younger brother Teddy Tsakos toldNewsday. “But this was what he liked … And you’ve got to be happy for him. This is what he wanted to do. This is what he chose. You worry about everything.”
One after another, each overpass had our first responder partners honoring NYPD’s fallen hero in a show of solidarity. We sincerely thank them for saluting Police Officer Anastasios Tsakos as his motorcade solemnly makes its way from Queens to Long Island. pic.twitter.com/iYppiJgbV2
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) May 3, 2021
Anastasios Tsakos is survived by his wife Irene, 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
A GoFundMe page set up to help support Tsakos' family has so far raised more than $215,000.