More than 2,000 law enforcement and fire officials honored New York State Trooper Craig Todeschini at his funeral on April 27 at the Holy Family Church in Fairmount. Trooper Todeschini, 25, was killed on April 23 when his patrol vehicle crashed into a tree as he pursued a speeding motorcyclist. The State Troopers PBA continues to mourn the loss of Trooper Todeschini, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Below is an article from The Post-Standard newspaper of Syracuse describing Thursday’s Funeral Mass.
Mother speaks from her heart as CNY mourns
Friday, April 28, 2006
By Diana LaMattina
With a composure granted through faith, Cindy Todeschini stood before her son’s casket and offered an understanding of the tragedy to those at his funeral Thursday.
"The one thing I want to point out today is that we all need to show respect to one another," she said in an unwavering voice.
"If we all would do that, this senseless tragedy would not have happened and we would not be here today honoring Craig."
The funeral of Trooper Craig Todeschini, of Geddes, drew more than 2,000 law enforcement and fire officials to Holy Family Church in Fairmount.
Although dignitaries such as Gov. George Pataki and Bishop James Moynihan spoke, it was a mother’s confident voice that spoke to the hearts of those in the church and watching on television.
"With the turnout of people here to honor Craig’s passing, each and every one of us has been impacted by this person in some way or another," she said. "God has given me the courage to stand up here and talk about respect."
Craig Todeschini, 25, died on duty Sunday when his vehicle crashed into a tree in the hamlet of Pompey Hills while chasing a speeding motorcyclist.
"Craig had a calling in life to help people," Cindy Todeschini said. "I always had a sense of security around Craig because I knew he would take charge and make things better if anything happened."
As a trooper and a firefighter, Craig Todeschini spent much of his life helping others and protecting his community.
From the time he was born, Cindy Todeschini knew her son would have an extraordinary zest for life. With pride, she recalled for those at the funeral the day he was born, and the doctors announced, "It’s a boy and he’s peeing all over us."
He was a spirited boy, who organized lemonade stands and Halloween walks to make money.
As a teen, he had some "youthful indiscretions," said New York State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett, citing a background check. On a school trip, he and a friend "enhanced" a boring stage play by setting off a stink bomb. At 14, he took the family car for a joyride in his neighborhood, only to be apprehended by his father, retired Geddes police Sgt. Jim Todeschini.
A good kid at heart, Craig Todeschini’s interests turned to community service. He joined the Camillus Explorer Post, eventually becoming a Taunton and then Solvay firefighter. His choice to pursue a career in law enforcement reflected his admiration for his father.
His younger sister, Lindsay Todeschini, also raised with a sense of serving others, is scheduled to enter the Syracuse Police Department next month.
"Police officers take pride in their ability to sort things out and get answers. Since Sunday evening, we’ve been looking for a lot of answers to great questions," said Bennett. "As good as we are at this, we came in the building still lacking those answers, especially why."
Those were questions that resonated with the hundreds of troopers, law enforcement officials and firefighters who stood outside in formation for more than an hour.
As the Mass began, it took about an hour for the officers, some from as far away as California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Oklahoma, to file through the church. Troopers from the barracks he’d worked in sat in the church, while most of the others watched the service on large screen televisions in the parish school’s cafeteria and gym.
Craig Todeschini’s legacy would be one of serving and loving others, said the Rev. Richard P. Prior Jr., pastor.
"He was the hand and arms of God in their community," Prior said.
Craig Todeschini’s stepson, Tyler Palmer, 7, left his mother’s side to lead the Communion procession, bringing a lieutenant firefighter’s hat to the altar.
Pataki eulogized Todeschini as a "man who gave of himself to the community."
"He was a hero and he died a hero," Pataki said.
Refocusing his comments to Craig’s wife, Kristi Todeschini, who is eight months pregnant, Pataki added, "That child will have a wonderful life because heroes like him (Craig) will be there to protect him."
As the casket was pushed out of the church and the law enforcement and firefighters stood at attention, three helicopters flew overhead — one turned left, leaving the other two, in a missing man formation.
A color guard folded the flag draped over Todeschini’s casket before Bennett presented it to the trooper’s young widow, whose son was reaching up to hold and pat her hand.
After taps and a gun salute, the hearse began toward St. Mary’s Cemetery in DeWitt, amid a procession of firetrucks and patrol cars. Across West Genesee Street from Holy Family Church, nearly 50 onlookers watched as the procession began.
"We were watching on TV and decided to come up," said Brenda Stauffer, of Camillus. "It hits you a lot harder when it’s going on right at the top of your street."
As the procession made its way along Interstates 690 and 481, members of the DeWitt Fire Department stood outside the station ready to salute as it passed. On the sidewalk in front was a set of firefighter gear, gently placed in honor of Todeschini’s service as a volunteer firefighter.
Staff writer Jim McKeever and contributing writer Robert McClendon contributed.