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Elderly Traffic Officer Memorialized After Agent's Line-of-Duty Death

By Jess Wisloski | December 7, 2013 3:51pm
 A traffic agent was killed in the line of duty when a truck backing away from the curb hit him, witnesses said.
Traffic Officer Killed in Manhattan
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THE BRONX — Leaders of the city's police force and family members of the 71-year-old NYPD traffic agent who was fatally hit by a truck in Midtown last week gathered Saturday at the devoted agent's funeral.

Kalyanarat Ranasinghe, 71, who went by Kalyana, was a Sri Lankan who came to the country 12 years ago when his daughter wanted to go to college in the states, Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a speech at the service.

"The three of them did everything together. Whether it was worshiping at the temple, attending Damika’s [his wife's] art exhibitions, or traveling the globe, they were inseparable," said Kelly, speaking to relatives gathered at the Ortiz Funeral Home on Westchester Avenue.

In an effort to better provide for his family, Ranasinghe became a traffic enforcer with the NYPD in 2006, Kelly said, and 18 months later the Bronx resident was promoted.

"He impressed his supervisors with his energy, drive and work ethic. Every morning, he commuted by subway to his base in Manhattan. He never arrived late and rarely called in sick," he said. Weeks ago he'd taken the supervisor's exam and done "extremely well," Kelly announced at the service.

"Kalyana had the stamina of traffic enforcement agents half his age," he added, saying the elderly agent would volunteer for overtime at the challenging job.

Despite the bad rap traffic agents face, Kelly said Ranasinghe "had a knack for dealing with people."

"I'm told he was very proud of the fact that the people he issued summonses to never yelled or cursed at him. Some even thanked him for the ticket," said Kelly.

Ranasinghe had been working on 44th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues the day after Black Friday when a 2013 Freightliner vacuum truck pulling out of a parking spot struck him, pulling him down, as he was stood in a parking lane on November 30, police said.

Shortly afterward, a 32-passenger bus trying to jockey into a parking spot just in front of the halted truck hit it as he was pinned underneath, the NYPD said. 

Both drivers stayed on scene and no charges had been filed, police said.