GREENLAWN, L.I. — An NYPD officer killed by an alleged drunk driver on a Queens highway was laid to rest Tuesday on Long Island as friends, family and fellow officers said their final goodbyes.
Funeral services for Officer Anastasios Tsakos started at 10 a.m. at the Saint Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church in Greenlawn.
Thousands of uniformed officers from around the tri-state area stood at attention for hours to pay their final respects to Tsakos, who was remembered as an eternal optimist, devoted husband and father, and a “perfect picture of the American dream.”
Tsakos leaves behind a wife and two young children, a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Overcome with emotion, Irene Tsakos bid farewell to her beloved husband.
“I had him and he had me and we were a team,” she said. “You’re the love of my life. I hope I made you proud; you are my angel now.”
During the service, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea posthumously promoted Tsakos, a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, to the rank of detective. He presented a gold detective shield to Tsakos’ wife.
“Cops like Tsakos are proud to do it every day. It’s the oath they swore. It’s the promise they make, to dedicate their lives and give their lives to keep others safe,” Shea said.
Tsakos’ parents and other family members flew in from Greece to mourn with his loved ones in New York. His final resting place is about 2 miles away from the church at the Northport Rural Cemetery.
The funeral came a day after a sea of blue gathered outside the same church for the highway officer’s wake.
Tsakos, 43, was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver on April 27 while he was on duty, diverting vehicles off the Long Island Expressway following a deadly crash just hours before his own death.
The driver, 32-year-old Jessica Beauvais, did not stay at the scene but police caught up to her and took her into custody shortly after the crash, officials said. Beauvais admitted to detectives she had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before the crash, and went on an anti-police rant during a podcast she livestreamed just hours before Tsakos was killed, according to prosecutors.
She faces a slew of charges, including vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.
Tsakos, raised in Greece and New York City, served in the Greek army after high school, worked in his father’s diner on Long Island, studied aviation in college and dreamed of flying helicopters for the NYPD.
He was as proud of his Greek heritage as he was of America — his adopted home country.
“His loss was tremendous,” said Lt. John Pappas said at the wake on Monday. “He did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that people never, ever saw, and he didn’t want any recognition for it.”
This story comprises reporting from PIX11’s Lauren Cook and Cristian Benavides, and The Associated Press.