An off-duty Rochester Police Officer died Saturday evening on the way to work.
It happened around 7 p.m. on Empire Boulevard in Penfield. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says that Manuel “Manny” Ortiz, who lived in Webster, was driving west on Empire when his car drifted off the road and into a ravine.
Baxter says some people driving behind him saw him go off the road and tried to help.
There is no word yet what caused his car to go off the road, but Baxter says the preliminary investigation shows the incident wasn't anything but “a tragic accident.” There will an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Deputies will check to see if there is any surveillance video from nearby homes and businesses that may help in the investigation.
The 52-year-old Ortiz was a crime prevention officer and a 22-year veteran of the department.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, who also spoke to reporters Saturday night at the scene of the accident, called it a “very sad day” for the department, and noted it has been a tough year for the RPD.
In October, Officer Denny Wright suffered serious injuries when he was stabbed while responding to a domestic incident. Wright was recently released from the hospital, but it still undergoing rehabilitation.
Singletary says that Ortiz was well known in the community and was a “great police officer.” He says that the RPD lost “a family member,” and that “we’re all grieving.”
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says first responders involved in the investigation continue to get peer support and assistance as they try and process the sudden death of "a fellow law enforcement officer and friend."
Mayor Lovely Warren issued a statement saying that, “The passing of Officer Manuel ‘Manny’ Ortiz is a tragedy and a great loss for our city. Officer Ortiz was not only devoted to his career of service, but to his wife and children as well.” She asked that, “all of Rochester join me in praying for the Ortiz family and all those that loved Officer Ortiz.”
City Council President Loretta Scott also called it, “a tragic loss for our community and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Officer Ortiz’s death.”