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Former Hamden officer killed in crash on 3rd day of retirement

Ret. Officer Michael Pantera was killed in a crash in North Branford Tuesday.

HAMDEN, Conn. — Hamden police are mourning an officer who retired Sunday and was killed Tuesday in a car crash. 

Ret. Officer Michael Pantera crash died in a crash in North Branford Tuesday. He had retired on Sunday. Pantera was a 24-year veteran of the Hamden Police Department. 

North Branford police said at 7:12 p.m. Tuesday, they were called to a one-car crash near 2180 Foxon Road. Emergency crews were unable to revive Pantera. 

Calling Pantera a compassionate and caring Police Officer, the acting Chief of Police said he was very proud to serve in the town where he was raised.

"He was always ready to lend a hand or volunteer to help an Officer or community member," Acting Chief of Police Timothy Wydra. "We mourn his loss and remember him as a genuine, loyal, hardworking, and kind-hearted person who touched everyone he met. We were all shocked and saddened to hear about his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Credit: Hamden Police
Officer Michael Pantera

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 Wydra said Pantera was born and raised in Hamden and went to Hamden High School. The city said officers are required to retire at age 65, but Wydra said Pantera wanted to stay on the force.

“He really enjoyed working here and working for this town,” Wydra said. “Four or five days ago, I was at the podium here with him, shaking his hand and giving him his retirement badge and having a piece of cake with him and now he’s gone and it’s really tough to put into words those emotions and those feelings.”

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“I extend my deepest condolences to the Hamden Police Department and to the family and loved ones of Officer Pantera," said Mayor Lauren Garrett.  "As a member of the Community Police Division and Bicycle Patrol Unit, Officer Pantera represented the best of our police department."

Garrett ordered all town flags to be lowered to half-mast to honor Pantera.

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Pantera worked in the patrol division and was a friendly face at community events. Pantera leaves behind a wife, two daughters and a son.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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