A 30-year-old Suffolk County police officer who has been honored for his service and was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago died in a single-vehicle crash early Monday, detectives said. Vincent Pelliccio was off-duty at the time.
According to the preliminary investigation, Pelliccio was driving a 2021 Jeep north on Nicolls Road, near West Road, shortly before 1 a.m. when he veered off the road and slammed into the median, officials said.
He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Jeep was impounded for a safety check as the investigation continues.
Pelliccio, from Ronkonkoma, started his professional career as a teacher but his dream of following in his father's footsteps won out when he joined the Suffolk County Police Department in December 2014, the department said in a statement mourning his death. He had been a patrol officer with the Third Precinct since then.
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The 30-year-old is survived by his parents, Tony and Angela, his sister Niki and his fiancée, Daniella Trotta. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
“Officer Pelliccio was a dedicated member of the Third Precinct who overcame personal adversity to continue serving the people of Suffolk County,” Third Precinct Inspector John Rowan said in a statement Monday. “His perseverance and unwavering commitment to his calling as a police officer is inspirational. Vinny will be missed but not forgotten by this command.”
Five years after joining the SCPD, in 2019, the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA) honored Pelliccio with its prestigious police award -- a prize bestowed on officers who battle debilitating illness in furtherance of a life of public service.
According to the TRA, Pelliccio was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer in September 2017, when he was just 26 years old. The officer suffered hair and weight loss and significant weakness from intensive radiation and chemotherapy, but still regularly visited the Third Precinct to stay connected with coworkers and "voice his unwavering desire to return to duty in his busy sector car," the group said in a biography announcing him as its recipient.
Pelliccio underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth from his stomach and kept working to get his strength back, TRA said. He returned to full duty in March 2018, about 18 months after his diagnosis and continued to perform his same duties, eventually earning himself a position on his precinct's Gang Task Force.
"The courage and determination exemplified by Police Officer Pellicio throughout his battle with cancer, along with his steadfast drive to return to work, was a true inspiration to all members of the Suffolk County Police Department," the notice read. "The Department is extremely proud to select Police Officer Vincent Pellicio as our 2019 Theodore Roosevelt® Police Award recipient."
More recently, in April 2020, Pelliccio was named Cop of the Month along with officer Anthony Devincenzo for the arrest of a violent gang member and drug dealer seven months prior. He and Devincenzo were monitoring a known drug and gang location in North Bay Shore at the time when they witnessed the gang member in front of a business and found marijuana on the sidewalk near where he was.
When they approached him, he fled into a hair salon with multiple civilians. During a violent struggle, Pelliccio deployed his Taser and the suspect was taken into custody, where he was found to be in possession of weapons and narcotics, officials said.
“Vinny was an extremely dedicated young man who loved being a police officer and was always eager to perform and excel in his law enforcement duties,” Third Precinct Sergeant Philip Dluginski said in a statement Monday. “He fully embraced the police culture and loved spending time with his blue family both during and outside of work. He will be sorely missed by all his friends and co-workers, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fiancée at this time.”
Suffolk County Police Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron called Pelliccio an exemplary and distinguished member of the department whose dedication served as an inspiration to all throughout his years of service.
"His loss is felt by everyone in the SCPD family, and I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends," Cameron said.
Anyone with information on the crash that killed Pelliccio is asked to call Suffolk County Sixth Squad Detectives at 631-854-8652.