STATEN ISLAND — Hundreds of New York City police officers turned out Thursday to mourn Officer Arthur Kasprzak, who was killed as he helped his family escape their Staten Island home during Hurricane Sandy.
Kaprzak's stricken friends and relatives lauded him as a hero, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly joined a line of police officers that stretched five deep for nearly two blocks outside St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in New Brighton.
"The storm that swept through our region last week took a tragic toll on our city — and it took the life of a young man full of extraordinary promise," Bloomberg said during the funeral service.
"If you’re a police officer, you couldn’t ask for a better teammate. If you’re a New Yorker, you couldn’t ask for a better person to be serving our city."
Kasprzak died during Hurricane Sandy as he helped several family members, including a 15-month-old boy, escape rising floodwaters by leading them into the attic of his Doty Avenue home in Arrochar.
Police believe he was electrocuted when he went back down to the basement to make sure it was clear. The precise cause of death is still being determined.
During the service, much of it in Kasprzak's native Polish, his sister Agata said she'll always remember him as a hero who gave his life for his family.
"Artie you are, and forever will be, our hero," she said.
Vencesiau D'Silvia, a deacon at the church and where Kasprzak served as an altar boy, said Kasprzak always loved helping people throughout his life.
"He laid down his life for his friends," he said. "He's my hero."
Kasprzak served as a police officer for six years, mainly in Lower Manhattan's 1st Precinct, and had executed more than 100 arrests, Kelly said.
Kelly said co-workers remembered Kasprzak for his sense of humor and constant smile.
"They recall Artie’s tremendous sense of humor, a smile that never left his face, and a reputation for speaking his mind, even if it got him in a bit of trouble sometimes," Kelly said.
"Artie’s untimely passing is terrible to bear, but I hope his family can take solace in the fact that he spent his life doing what he loved, in service to the people of New York."
The majority of people who lost their lives to the Hurricane Sandy were found on Staten Island, with 22 bodies recovered as of Wednesday.