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Officer Dies, 8 Others Injured In NYPD Van Crash In Hunts Point

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A rookie cop was killed and eight other officers were injured Sunday morning in a single-vehicle crash involving an NYPD van in the Bronx.

At around 5 a.m., the van struck a barrier on Bruckner Boulevard near Bryant Avenue in Hunts Point, ejecting one officer as the vehicle careened for more than 90 feet, NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks told reporters Sunday.

Officer Dies, 8 Others Injured In NYPD Van Crash In Hunts Point

The officer who fell from the van -- identified as 25-year-old Michael Williams -- was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Lincoln Hospital.

Williams was sitting in the far back seat when he was ejected, CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported.

The son of a longtime cop in upstate Carmel, Williams joined the force in January.

"The 47 Precinct commanding officer spoke very, very highly of him, how he was very well liked, Banks told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "Speaking to his mother and his father ... that's all he ever wanted to do, was become a police officer."

A line of grieving officers saluted as Williams' body was carried out of Lincoln Hospital Sunday morning, CBS 2's Don Champion reported.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams joined the NYPD in April. (credit: NYPD)

One other officer suffered lacerations to his head and injured his right shoulder, requiring surgery, police said.

"We are hoping and expecting a full recovery," Banks added.

Two of the officers are being held at Lincoln Hospital overnight for observation, Champion reported. The other officers were treated and released.

All nine officers were members of the 47th Precinct in the North Bronx. They were being transported to two different details, including the People's Climate March in Manhattan, Banks said.

Officer Dies, 8 Others Injured In NYPD Van Crash In Hunts Point

"It's a very sad day for New York City," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The mayor met with members of the 47th Precinct, saying the city and the NYPD are in mourning, WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported.

"We lost one of our finest and we lost one of the newest members of the finest, and that hurts even more," de Blasio said.

Officer Dies, 8 Others Injured In NYPD Van Crash In Hunts Point

William Soto, a witness who arrived to the scene moments after the crash, said he first saw paramedics treating the van's driver, who was bleeding from the head.

"They put the neck brace on his neck," Soto said. "They had another officer sitting on the ground. And I guess, for precuation, they put him in the ambulance afterwards. Then they had another officer standing; I guess, also for precaution, they had him on the board and also took him to the hospital.

"Then a passerby told me, 'Oh, there was another cop laying in the middle of the highway on the Bruckner,'" Soto continued. "He was all mangled up. So he might have been ejected out of the side doors somehow."

There was heavy rain in the area overnight. Neighbors said that when the roadway is slick, it can be extremely dangerous and the area where the crash occurred is prone to accidents.

"This is a very slippery area, especially at nighttime and when it rains, and if you don't watch your speed when you hit this curve, you'll lose control," Soto said.

It's not clear whether the rain and wet roads played a factor.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said investigators are still trying to determine what happened.

"We'll certainly look to see weather conditions, speed circumstances seatbelt issues. So that will all be part of the investigation as it goes forward," Bratton said.

The stretches of the Bruckner Expressway and Bruckner Boulevard that were closed for hours following the accident have reopened.

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