A career educator who'd only just become Englewood's school superintendent this past summer died in a weekend car crash in Westchester.
Dr. Ronel Cook, 51, was killed and his 18-year-old son, Jayden, injured after Cook's 2015 Nissan Altima veered off the eastbound Cross County Parkway and slammed into a stone wall at the Seminary Avenue overpass on Sunday, Nov. 20, according to Kieran O’Leary, a Yonkers police spokesperson.
The elder Cook, of Newburgh, NY, was pronounced dead at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester hospital a short time later. His son, a Yonkers resident, was admitted with serious injuries that weren't considered life-threatening, police said.
It was believed that Ronel Cook may have suffered a medical episode before the crash, according to officials in Englewood. Authorities said witnesses told Yonkers police he wasn't speeding or swerving.
Several school districts are mourning Cook's death.
In his brief time in Englewood, Cook "demonstrated a true passion for education, our students, and our community," Acting Englewood Assistant School Supt Jennifer D. Sifuentes wrote in a letter to the community on Monday.
Grief counseling was made available for anyone in the district who needs it, Sifuentes added.
Even though he became Englewood's school chief in August, Cook made a strong impression, Mayor Michael Wildes said.
"This is a tragic loss," the mayor said.
The Catskill (NY) Central School District, where Cook had previously been superintendent, "served our school district with distinction from July 2017 to July 2022," a statement reads.
"His presence here touched every aspect of our school community," the district added. "We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and coworkers during this time of great sadness."
Cook previously spent nearly a dozen years with the Poughkeepsie School District, the final two as deputy superintendent.
He'd also been an assistant principal in Newburgh, NY (July 2003 - June 2006), and athletic director at the Hyde Park Central School District (Aug. 2002 - June 2002).
Cook also taught in the Poughkeepsie School District from Sept. 1996 - June 2002.
He received his doctorate of education from Fordham Graduate School of Education after getting, two education-related master's degrees and his bachelor's degree in English language and literature from SUNY New Paltz.
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