ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A “tragic accident;” that’s how officials are describing this weekend’s crash that claimed the life of a longtime Rochester police officer.
At a Monday morning press conference, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter and Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary offered details of the investigation into the death of officer Manny Ortiz.
Ortiz was on his way to work on Saturday evening when his personal vehicle crashed into a ravine off Empire Boulevard in Penfield.
Baxter said Ortiz accidentally shot himself in the thigh, which led to the crash. Before Ortiz crashed, Baxter said the officer called his fiance and told her he accidentally shot himself and was going to the hospital.
“There’s going to be a few questions that we’ll never be able to answer for obvious reasons, but the fact pattern shows that the weapon was outside from the holster and was accidentally discharged, if you will, down through his thigh, hitting his femoral artery,” said Sheriff Todd Baxter.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office officials say the weapon did have a safety mechanism.
Baxter says good Samaritans and passerby attended to Ortiz after he crashed and before first responders arrived on scene. One of the bystanders was a registered nurse, who climbed down the ravine, about 100 yards off the road, and then called 911.
Ortiz was later pronounced dead at the scene.
“We want to thank the community for all their support,” Singletary said. “Here we are another trying time, another incident for the RPD that test our fortitude, our strength and our character, but together we will get through this with community support. He was a true servant to this community and he left behind a legacy in this department.”
Of the four deputies who retrieved Ortiz from the crash scene, three of the deputies were trained by Ortiz at the Police Academy in Rochester.
“A legacy of love, respect and service throughout his 22 years with the Rochester Police Department and we will continue to honor his life,” Singletary said. “We’re still trying to process this, but we take it day by day. Manny loved teaching, he certainly had a knack for training and he was always willing to do what was asked of him and he will always be remembered by that.”
Many in the community are mourning the loss of the 22-year-veteran and shared stories about the impact he made in the area.
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“He was always willing to do what was asked of him, and he will always be remembered for that,” Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said
Ortiz was the focus of several stories in 2009 when he and then partner Angel Vasquez visited school Number 6 to listen to the kids talk about poverty and violence.
Funeral services and calling hours have not yet been announced.
A GoFundMe account has been established to help officer Ortiz’s family.