Port Authority police turned out in force Wednesday, joined by other members of the law enforcement community, to lay to rest a courageous PAPD recruit who valiantly returned to training while fighting cancer -- only to have it take his life.
Michael Joseph Kelly, 31, was originally a member of the 115th Port Authority Police Academy Recruit Training Class in 2017 but had to withdraw after having emergency colon surgery, colleagues said.
He nonetheless “displayed incredible courage, strength and determination battling his illness and returned as a member of the 117th Recruit Training Class” this past October, the authority PBA wrote in a public Facebook post.
Four days later, Kelly was re-admitted to the hospital. He remained under the care of doctors before dying last Friday.
Kelly was buried Wednesday after a funeral Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Point Pleasant. Several commanding chiefs attended. The PAPD Pipes and Drums Corps performed.
Port Authority Police Supt. Edward Cetnar called Kelly “a dedicated, hardworking recruit who never gave up on his dream of becoming a Port Authority police officer.
“He set a lasting example for our future recruits to follow,” Cetnar said. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family.”
Kelly, who obtained his Criminal Justice Degree from Kean University, was a corrections officer in Ocean County before enlisting with the Port Authority PD.
He is survived by his parents and sister.
The 117th Port Authority Police Recruit Class has raised more than $7,000 through donations and by selling t-shirts memorializing Kelly – including $1,100 donated by the members themselves. The Port Authority PBA has donated $10,000, as well.
The t-shirt sale closes at the end of the month.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.