The City of Chelsea dedicated the Washington Avenue bridge at Heard Street in memory of Chelsea Police officer
John Bruttaniti during an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson served as master of ceremonies for the program during which City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Council President Damali Vidot and other dignitaries paid tribute to Mr. Bruttaniti, who died in an accident on May 12, 2016 at the age of 41.
Vidot said she personally understood the importance of having a mentor like Mr. Bruttaniti during one’s years of personal development. Other speakers at the ceremony echoed the belief that a bridge dedication was the perfect way to honor a man who was “a bridge” from Chelsea’s dedicated public servants in the Police Department to the city’s youth.
Several of Mr. Bruttaniti’s colleagues in the Police Department and the Fire Department attended the ceremony. (Mr. Bruttaniti worked for three years in the CFD before joining the Police Department in 2008). The Fire and Police Color Guards added an impressive touch to the program. Mr. Bruttaniti’s fellow veterans in the U.S. Army, who served with him in Iraq, were also in attendance for the tribute.
Police Chief Brian Kyes praised Mr. Bruttaniti’s outstanding record as a police officer and read the police report that Mr. Bruttaniti wrote after saving a toddler from choking by dislodging a penny stuck in her throat and resuscitating her. For his heroic actions in that June, 2015 incident, Mr. Bruttaniti received the Chelsea Police Life Saving Award.
Mr. Bruttaniti’s instantaneous response to the situation and his training in the emergency medical field caused some to say that he was placed as “an angel” in that situation to save a baby’s life.
Mr. Bruttaniti’s sister, Karen, delivered touching remarks on behalf of the family.
“John lived with a real zest for life,” said Karen Bruttaniti. “He loved riding his motorcycle and truly enjoying his life. John was a man of deep character. He never judged, never held a grudge, and always believed in forgiving others, no matter what.”
Karen recalled the warm and inspiring correspondences she received while her brother was serving in Iraq. “The letters always ended, saying, ‘Sister, I love my family.”
“I still read his letters and my eyes still fill with tears,” she said.
Karen added thoughtfully, “But let me be clear. John was dedicated to his entire family, and he counted all of you, the people of Chelsea, as family. Serving for and with the people of Chelsea, John loved being a firefighter, police officer, investigator, mentor, volunteering anywhere and in an any way to help his Chelsea family. That was our brother.”
Karen said her brother would have been humbled by having a bridge named in his honor.
“I know he would hope that his memory would serve as an example of community and service to one another in love,” she said.
The souvenir program included photos of Mr. Bruttaniti with Chief Brian Kyes, Capt. David Batchelor, and Sgt. David Flibotte in their CPD uniforms at an awards ceremony in Boston, and of Mr. Bruttaniti with youths he had mentored in the Chelsea REACH Program, and it aptly concluded with the following memorial tribute to the beloved police officer: “John will forever be remembered for his kindness, bravery, and service to our country and to the City of Chelsea.”