MIDTOWN — An elderly NYPD traffic officer was struck and killed Saturday in a Manhattan retail area during one of the busiest shopping days of the year, police said.
The officer, Kalyanarat Ranasinghe, 71, was standing in the parking lane on 44th Street near Fifth Avenue, when a 2013 Freightliner Vacuum truck pulling out of a parking spot hit him around 2:30 p.m. as , police said.
The right front side of the truck stuck the officer and pulled him under the tires, witnesses told NBC New York.
"He was in the roadway doing his job," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking to members of the press following the incident.
Shortly afterward, a 32-passenger bus trying to jockey into a parking spot in front of the vacuum truck, struck the vehicle with Ranasinghe pinned under it, the NYPD said.
Police were still investigating the accident on Saturday afternoon, and the 43-year-old truck driver and the 25-year-old bus driver remained at the scene, police said.
Syed Rahim, vice president of the traffic agents union, told The New York Times that Ranasighhe was originally from Sri Lanka and had a wife and daughter. He told the paper that the fallen agent was having mobility problems and had complained a little over a week ago about working in the cold.
"He was a very nice man," union president Robert Cassar told Newsday. "It's a big deal that we lost him. The all agents are all stunned. This doesn't happen very often.