Kaley Castantine, recognized by the Riverhead PBA during its annual awards ceremony last night for her heroic effort to save a suicidal man in October. Photo: Emil Breitenbach Jr.

Riverhead Police Officer Kaley Castantine was honored by the Riverhead PBA for her outstanding efforts to rescue a man who had driven his car in the L.I. Sound in Riverhead in October.

Castantine, 30, was first on the scene after a 911 call reported a vehicle driving into the water at a high rate of speed at about 7:30 in the evening of Oct. 3.

A former lifeguard, Castantine, who grew up on the South Fork, didn’t hesitate to dive into the water and swim out to the submerged Honda, about 100 feet offshore. She repeatedly dove underwater in her efforts to save the young man behind the wheel.

“She put her own life on the line in an effort to save another,” said Officer John Morris, who presented Castantine with the PBA Officer of the Year last night at the L.I. Aquarium in downtown Riverhead.

The driver of the vehicle, who was pulled unconscious and unresponsive from the car by Castantine and two other officers, died in what police determined to be a suicide. The identity of the 21-year-old man was not released.

Castantine, who joined the Riverhead Police force in 2014, said she did what she was trained to do.

Police Officer Rich Freeborn was recognized by the PBA with a lifesaving award for his actions on Sept. 19, when he and State Trooper Michael Masino pulled an unconscious man from the Peconic River off West Main Street. The man was found floating face down in the water. Freeborn and Masino performed CPR and the man regained a pulse and survived.

Freeborn was also recognized last night for his actions during a domestic incident which led to the recovery of a loaded firearm.

Other awards given out during ceremonies at the PBA’s annual installation dinner, recognizing members of the department who went above and beyond the call of duty in the past year:

Officer John Morris, recognized for apprehending a suspect with K9 Rocky.

Sgt. Jill Kubetz, Officer Matthew Mudzinski and Officer Branden Heller for assisting K9 Rocky by setting up and securing a perimeter.

Officer Charles Chicanowicz and Officer Sean Mackie for an investigation which led to the arrest of a suspect for armed robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.

Freeborn and Officer Daniel Hogan for locating four suspects who were later charged with first-degree robbery.

Officer Christopher Burns for, while off-duty, locating a missing female who had left a suicide note.

Officer Michael Carrieri and Officer Raymond LaPorte for conducting a vehicle and traffic stop that led to the arrest of a suspect for criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Kubetz for her actions in locating an occupied stolen vehicle, Officer John Doscinski for locating the suspects who fled the vehicle and Officer Daniel Walther for his actions during a foot pursuit after the suspects fled the stolen vehicle during a traffic stop.

Officers Matthew Neknez, Freeborn, Hogan and Patryk Loszewski for their investigative efforts which led to the arrests of two suspects for prostitution-related offenses.

Officers LaPorte, Carrieri and Sean Evans for their investigative efforts which led to the arrests of two suspects for prostitution-related offenses.

Longtime PBA president Det. Dixon Palmer, who retired Jan. 31, was honored as the Member of the Year. Going forward the Member of the Year Award will be known as the Dixon A. Palmer Police Benevolent Association Member of the Year Award.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith also recognized Palmer a proclamation.

THe PBA also installed its new slate of officers last night: Charlies Mauceri succeeds Palmer as president; John Morris, vice president; Rich Freeborn, secretary; Michael Schmidt, treasurer.

Dylan Newman, son of veteran Riverhead Police dispatcher Tanya Newman, was made an honorary member of the Riverhead PBA last night. Dylan, a Southold teenager, is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma. Riverhead PBA members have rallied to support the boy and his family, including hosting a “Team Dylan” fundraiser in October. 

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Emil Breitenbach Jr.

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