Former Vernon police officer, East Granby man killed in WWII-era crash at Bradley Airport

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A former Vernon police officer and an East Granby man are the first victims to be identified in a deadly WWII-era plane crash that killed seven people at Bradley International Airport, officials and the man’s family confirmed.

Gary Mazzone, was identified as one of the victims who died, Vernon Chief of Police James Kenny wrote in a press release Wednesday.

“It is with deep sadness that I inform the Vernon Police Department, past and present, of the untimely death of retired Capt. Gary Mazzone," Kenny wrote. "He had a special relationship with Special Olympics Connecticut and is a member of their hall of fame. As recent as last month, he was still supporting VPD's efforts with Special Olympics."

Mazzone was onboard the B-17 Flying Fortress that crashed at Bradley International Airport killing seven people Wednesday.

Mazzone served the Vernon Police Department for 22 years, moving up the ranks to captain. He was hired Aug. 2, 1976 and retired Sept. 23, 1998.

Mazzone had a distinguished career and was a graduate of the FBI National Academy. After retiring, Mazzone also worked 20 years with the Litchfield County State’s Attorney’s Office as an inspector.

He just retired from the state in January, according to Kenny.

"I would venture he knew every single person in this courthouse," said Dawn Gallo, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney for the Litchfield Judicial District. "Not just to say hello, but he knew their names, he knew their families, he knew what they were going through. He made a connection with every person he encountered in a very positive way."

News 12 also learned Mazzone loved the outdoors. He was known for his wit and sense of humor, often playing jokes on many of his coworkers.

"He was a member of our office, but he really was a member of our family," Gallo said. "He was truly an unbelievable, one-of-a-kind person.

Mazzone was a lifelong East Windsor resident, graduating from East Windsor High School and the University of Connecticut.

Another man killed in the crash was also publicly identified by his wife in a Facebook post.

Debra Riddell posted a message about her husband Robert Riddell, of East Granby, last night saying in part, "Words cannot express how devastated I am. At this point, all survivors have been identified. Rob was not one of them. We are waiting for the M.E. To identify those who did not make it. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated."

Bradley International Airport held a moment of silence at 9:54 a.m. Thursday to honor those affected by the crash.

Officials with the NTSB say a preliminary report on the deadly crash could be released over the next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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