Cop, hit by car and badly hurt loved ‘like the other mayor’
MOUNT ARLINGTON — A local police officer who grew up in town is continuing to recover after being hit by a car — and now the community is rallying behind him and his family.
Sgt. James DiStasio was seriously injured on Dec. 11, when he was hit by a passing car while investigating a crash on Howard Boulevard. He was taken to Morristown Medical Center, where he is still being treated for undisclosed injuries.
In a Facebook post two days after the incident, Chief Keith Licata said that while he understood there was a lot of interest in DiStasio's condition, the department was not able to say much.
"All I can say at this time is that MAPD officers and his mother are by his side and that every step along the way to this point has been positive," he said in the post. "The family and officers thank you for all of the food contributions. However, at this time it is starting to become very plentiful and we do not want to waste any of your kindness."
In the days since the crash, the Mount Arlington Fraternal Order of Police has started a fundraising drive by selling T-shirts for "#TeamJimmyD."
Lt. Ed LaBruno of the Mount Arlington Police Department told New Jersey 101.5 that since the crash there has not been much change in DiStasio's condition. He said the news from the doctors "seems to be positive," but that "it's a waiting game where he is everything is all said and done."
LaBruno said DiStasio has not only been on the force for 23 years, but was also raised in the town and went to Roxbury High School. He said DiStasio is very active in all sorts of sports around town, including ice hockey and is well known by the residents of the town.
"He's one of those guys where if you see him standing still for more than three seconds you're one of the only people see him stand still for more than three seconds," LaBruno said. "We're hoping to get a full recovery and get him back in uniform. He's an asset to the town.
Mayor Michael Stanzilis called DiStasio "the most popular officer I have ever seen in my entire life." The mayor, who said he moved to town in 2002, said there is no question that the community loves DiStasio.
"Jimmy is like the other mayor," he said. "This was the first time since I've been mayor that we've had a cop get injured like this. The first night I was at the hospital there were hundreds of cops there all the way up to the State Police."
The crash that inured DiStasio is being investigated by the Mount Arlington Police Department, the Morris County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Morris County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit. A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office said the investigation is ongoing, but there is not update at this time.
Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the prosecutor's office at 973-285-6200.
Information on ordering a shirt to help support the fundraising drive can be found on the FOP's Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stanzilis said he is a "big believer in the power of prayer," and asked people to pray for DiStasio as he recovers from the crash.