Hero Down: Sands Point PD Sergeant Joseph Spinosa Dies From Coronavirus
Mineola, NY – Sands Point Police Department (SPPD) Sergeant Joseph Spinosa died on Wednesday after contracting COVID-19.
The 52-year-old sergeant began feeling ill and spiked a fever after going off-shift on March 27, Sands Point Police Chief Thomas Ruehle said in a statement to Newsday.
Sgt. Spinosa spoke with the chief about his condition in the days that followed, and ultimately sought treatment on March 31.
The following day, he tested positive for the novel coronavirus with pneumonia.
“He was placed on a ventilator and unfortunately he never came off,” Chief Ruehle said.
Sgt. Spinosa was a patient at New York University Winthrop Hospital at the time of his death.
Chief Ruehle said that Sgt. Spinosa’s passing marks the first line-of-duty death in the history of the department, Newsday reported.
The chief and approximately a dozen of Sgt. Spinosa’s fellow officers traveled to the home of the fallen sergeant’s mother, Carol, to bring her flowers on Thursday.
"She came out from a distance," Chief Ruehle told Newsday. "We all wanted to give her a hug and a kiss, but we can’t, and it’s breaking my heart. It's just a surreal time. It's like a bad horror movie."
The chief described Sgt. Spinosa as a “big teddy bear” who “loved busting chops,” Newsday reported.
His wit and sense of humor is likely what everyone will miss the most, Chief Ruehle said.
Sgt. Spinosa, the son of New York Police Officer Joseph Spinosa, joined the SPPD in September of 2000.
“He loved being a cop,” Carol told Newsday. “He liked people. He was a people-person. He liked helping people.”
Carol, 77, has been living with her son since 2018, when his father passed away.
“He is a great son, and I’m a very proud mother,” Carol told Newsday. “Many, many people who knew him loved him greatly.”
A high point in his career came in 2015, when he helped to resuscitate a child who wasn’t breathing, Chief Ruehle told Newsday.
“The child would have passed if not for whatever actions he took,” the chief said.
Sgt. Spinosa was also the recipient of the 2008 Nassau County Municipal Police Chief’s Officer of the Year Award.
“Sgt. Spinosa was a beloved and esteemed senior member of our department,” SPPD Chief Commissioner Peter Forman told Newsday. “I know I speak for many of the residents when I say that he will be missed dearly.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sands Point Police Department Sergeant Joseph Spinosa, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.