By Marc Bussanich
Bronx, NY—On Saturday, December 7 traffic enforcement agents bid farewell to their fallen comrade, Kalyana Ranasinghe, who was killed by a moving industrial vacuum truck on November 30. Attending the services to pay their final respects at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx included Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.
Mr. Ranasinghe, born in Sri Lanka, was a seven-year traffic enforcement agent, according to Robert Cassar, president of the Communication Workers of America, Local 1182, the union that represents about 3,500 traffic and sanitation enforcement agents. Watch Video Interview of Mr. Cassar
Mr. Cassar said that the accident occurred when Mr. Ranasinghe was writing a summons to the driver of the industrial vacuum truck.
“I encouraged his family to sue because I think that the driver is at the very least negligent. If you’re getting a summons, you don’t just drive away. This driver obviously drove away before the summons was issued. That was the last summons in [Ranasinghe]’s PDT [handheld ticket writing device] that had not been served,” said Cassar.
The tragic death of Mr. Ranasinghe is a stark reminder of just how dangerous the traffic agent occupation is. Although tragedy occurs infrequently, traffic agents are routinely subjected to the wrath of angry motorists. Cassar said that on the previous night a traffic enforcement agent was assaulted on Canal Street.
“There’s no doubt this is a dangerous job. Between getting assaulted, getting hit by cars or even stepping off the curb and injuring your ankle. These are the things that happen to agents everday,” Cassar said.
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