Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paying Homage to a Brother

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paying Homage to a Brother

Article excerpt

HACKENSACK -- The memory of Officer Allen Fednik, one of the few city police officers to die in the line of duty, had been kept alive online and in personal reminiscences by a graying, ever dwindling cadre of his former colleagues.

Yet there was no plaque or other monument at police headquarters marking Fednik's service and his life, which ended when a train slammed into the Cadillac he drove on March 5, 1980. It took a determined newcomer to the department to launch an effort to change that.

On Wednesday, some of Fednik's closest colleagues -- Patrick Fay, 64, John Sartori, 61, and Michael Surmick, 66 -- had gathered for the unveiling of a plaque to the fallen officer at Moose Lodge 1971 on Charles Street. They each halted a moment upon seeing the plaque, engraved with Fednik's young face. Later, they took turns telling the crowd of nearly 20 young police officers about their friend.

"I wouldn't have been a Hackensack cop if it wouldn't have been for Al Fednik," Sartori said, recalling how Fednik persuaded him to take the civil service exam. Sartori went on to serve for 25 years.

The plaque was mounted in the Police Department lobby the following Thursday morning.

In was on a March night nearly 35 years ago that Sartori was working with the volunteer ambulance corps when a call came in about a crash on Atlantic Street and Railroad Avenue. Once on the scene, it didn't take long to realize that the victim with a gold stripe running along his uniform trousers was a cop, and that that cop was Allen Fednik.

The rest of the night was silence, Sartori remembered. No one talked about it.

Fednik, who was 30, had been on his way to Hackensack High School to begin his shift on a night school security detail. His 1973 blue Cadillac was struck by the train as it crossed the tracks on Atlantic Street.

Later, two city police officers knocked on the door of Fednik's home in Wood-Ridge. His wife, Rita Russo Fednik answered, and soon her world collapsed. …

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