An Islip Terrace man was killed after losing control of his cement truck on Sunrise Highway in Holbrook Wednesday, Suffolk police said.
John Gagliano, 57, was thrown from his 1990 Mack Truck after it struck a median and overturned at 7:39 a.m., just west of Nicolls Road, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Eastbound lanes were closed until 1 p.m.
Investigators are looking into reports by witnesses who saw the front left tire blow out, police said.
The truck is owned by Giaquinto Masonry Inc. in Deer Park, police said, and was impounded for a safety check by the department's Motor Carrier Safety Section. Calls to the company were not immediately returned or answered. Gagliano's brother-in-law Gary Innes said Gagliano was a safe driver in a job he took after more than 20 years as a New York City firefighter.
The father of seven was not just a "workaholic," he needed a paycheck because three children are in college, Innes said.
"He'd do anything for his family and friends -- give the shirt off his back," said Innes, of Deer Park.
Three months before the 2001 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center, Gagliano had submitted his FDNY retirement papers, Innes said, but when 17 of his station house colleagues died at Ground Zero, he pulled the papers back and worked another three years.
Gagliano was the same driver who lost control of another cement truck seven years ago on Sunrise Highway in East Moriches. That crash accidentally killed state transportation worker Patrick Mapleson who was making road repairs, police said.
According to court papers, Gagliano said he was distracted because he was trying to grab a water bottle when he lost control.
With Gary Dymski