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Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Officer: In Memory

Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Officer In Memory

In Memory Officer Roy L. Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Department

This post is in memory of officer Roy L. Nelson of the New Smyrna Beach, FL Police Department. Officer Nelson and his police K-9 Caesar perished in an automobile accident while on duty, August 13, 2005.

I invite you to read my other blog posts for law enforcement officers from Volusia and Flagler counties in Florida, who have died in the line of duty. You may find the master list and links to individual posts using THIS LINK. Research is ongoing for this project. If you have information or photos you would like to share, please drop me a line. I would love to be able to give you credit for your contribution.



Officer Roy L. Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police obituary photoOfficer Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police

According to NSBPD Sergeant Mike Brouillette, Officer Roy L. Nelson, K-9 handler and officer on the New Smyrna Beach police department was described as having a “heart of gold” and that “he loved his job and loved being a k-9 handler.” Volusia County Sheriff’s K-9 officer Jeff Harting added, “He was a good guy. He was good-hearted and very dedicated to K-9.”

Nelson’s death shook fellow officers deeply. He was the first New Smyrna Beach police officer to die in the line of duty. Not only did Nelson perish, his faithful K-9, Caesar, a companion of two years on the force, also perished in a terrifying, high-speed, single car automobile accident. The circumstances surrounding the accident, were slow in coming, and were often contradictory.

Roy L. Nelson grew up in Lakeland, FL where his father served as a corrections officer. According to family, Nelson became interested in law enforcement after stopping to assist an injured motorcyclist. After serving as a volunteer firefighter, he would later spend five years as a Polk County firefighter before realizing his career dream of law enforcement with the New Smyrna Beach Police Department. His mother recalled him as “a wonderful son, always the first to learn everything.”

Community support in the days after Nelson’s death was overwhelming. Residents and law enforcement throughout the state provided food, emotional support, and even patrol support in order to help the family and police force cope and recover. “People want to help in whatever way they can” said Commander Bill Schulz of the Port Orange police department. The Volusia County Sheriffs office also provided deputies to help cover shifts. The City of Edgewater provided patrol officers for the night of Nelson’s accident, allowing fellow officers to grieve.

Coronado Community United Methodist Church served as host for Officer Nelson’s funeral service. More than 600 law enforcement officers were in attendance. None left the services with a dry eye. More than 250 law enforcement vehicles served as an escort for the coffin containing the body of Nelson and the ashes of Caeasar.  Sea Pines Memorial Gardens is where Nelson and Caesar were laid to rest. The service featured a 21 gun salute, taps, and a four-helicopter flyover in the missing man formation.

The service ended with a traditional call over the police radio, “RCC to Kilo-2000, RCC to Kilo-2000, RCC to Kilo-2000. RCC to all listening units. RCC to all listening stations. This is to inform you that K-9 officer Roy Nelson and his faithful partner, Caesar, have reached their final resting place and will forever be 10-7.”


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The Fatal Accident

Officer Nelson and K-9 Caesar died in a violent automobile accident. The details surrounding the accident were at best sketchy and often times reported before all information was fully clear.

Officer Roy L. Nelson was on duty the evening of Saturday, August 13, 2005. He was beachside at the time when he took off at a high rate of speed crossing the south causeway bridge. Officer Nelson was not wearing his seatbelt. Officer Nelson was not flashing his emergency lights and did not have his siren on when he seemingly lost control of his vehicle, hitting a guardrail, before his cruiser flipped. Shortly after 11:45 p.m., Nelson and Caesar were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the New Smyrna Beach police would state that Nelson was responding to a burglary call. The Florida Highway Patrol began to investigate the accident. An unnamed witness provided information that a white, late model pickup had been seen turning east on the South Causeway, before Nelson’s crash. There was no indication that Nelson’s patrol car made contact with this vehicle.

In the preliminary FHP report, they stated that Nelson was  responding to a “law enforcement call.” He was travelling in excess of 70mph in a 50mph zone. He was not wearing his seat belt and his flashers and siren were not activated. The report references a white pick up which pulled into Nelson’s path. Nelson swerved to avoid the truck, swerved back when he hit a guardrail, spun clockwise, flipped, and hit another guardrail, before coming to a stop.

The New Smyrna Beach Police Department provided contradictory information in the same newspaper article referenced above. A police representative states, “We are speculating as to what happened. There was no radio traffic.” No radio traffic threw into question the FHP report stating Nelson was responding to a “law enforcement call.” The NSBPD proposed several hypotheticals as to what Nelson was doing.

In the weeks following, 71-year-old Gordon Camp came forward as a person of interest. According Camp’s attorney at the time, he and his wife were returning from a party and were in the median turning east on the Causeway when Ms. Camp saw a police car “shoot” behind them at a high rate of speed with no lights or siren. They continued home, not realizing that Nelson had crashed his patrol car.

In early November, 2005, the Florida Highway Patrol recommended felony charges be filed against the Camps for leaving the scene of an accident involving death. The state attorney’s office responded, “Our review of the report requires that additional investigation is needed before we make any decision whether or not to file charges.” It is important to remember, the state attorney did not have a final report from the Florida Highway Patrol at that time and that the vehicles of Nelson and Camp did not collide.

Nearly a year and a half later, the state attorney’s office declined to pursue charges against Camp. Reasons included that “based upon physical evidence, eyewitness interviews, and accident reconstruction experts, investigators with the State Attorney’s Office determined Gordon Camp did not cause the accident that killed Officer Roy Nelson.” The state attorney’s office added that according to the final FHP report, Nelson was travelling in excess of 115 mph without his emergency lights or sirens activated.

Roy Nelson’s widow, Angie, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the amount of $3 million against Gordon and Bonni Camp in May 2006. After the state attorney declined to press charges, the Camp’s attorney, Michael Lambert, stated, “It will become very expensive for Miss Nelson to bring the Camps in any greater than their policy limit. Its very unusual where you have a case of no contact. And if you look at the terrain down there, it would be very difficult for (Nelson) to maneuver at that speed.”

Volusia County Courts dismissed the case of Angelique R. Nelson vs. Gordon Camp and Bonni Davis Camp on January 7, 2009. The parties reached an out of court settlement.

The Aftermath

Officer Roy L. Nelson has not been forgotten.

Visit an online memorial to Nelson HERE.

Law Enforcement Memorial Volusia and Flagler Counties Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Officer In MemoryThe Law Enforcement Memorial to Volusia and Flagler Counties features Nelson’s name. This impressive monument is located outside the Indiana Avenue entrance to the Historic Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand, FL.

A small marker dedicated to Nelson and Caesar is located on the South Causeway Bridge near the location where both officers lost their lives. This marker can only be accessed safely on foot while crossing the bridge.

The memory of Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police officer is never far from officers hearts and minds. Located at the NSB Police headquarters is an impressive memorial to Officer Nelson.

Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Officer In Memory
This beautiful memorial to Roy Nelson New Smyrna Beach Police Officer is located outside the NSBPD station. It serves as a fitting and lasting memorial to the beloved officer who gave his life on duty. The police station is located at 246 Industrial Park Boulevard, near the airport.


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Daytona Beach News Journal–Numerous articles provide the basis for this post. I generously acknowledge their contribution.

The Ledger–This is the local newspaper in Lakeland. I discovered Nelson’s early interest in law enforcement from this newspaper.

Volusia County Clerk of Court

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Frank Fanovich Major League Baseball Player New York City Police Officer: In Memory

Frank Fanovich

Frank Fanovich       

Frank Fanovich lived a life many boys have dreamed of. Frank Fanovich became a major league baseball player and then served as an officer with the  New York City police department.

On January 11, 1923, in the Bronx, NY, Frank and Mary Fanovich welcomed the birth of their son, Frank Joseph. The eleventh was a beautiful, winter New York day with the high temperature reaching 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Overnight temperatures fell to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. No snow fell on the city that day. It was without doubt a blessed day in the Bronx.

RMS PannoniaFrank Fanovich Major League Baseball Player
RMS Pannonia

Frank, Sr. was born in Pesino, Italy on November 27, 1892. He was five feet, eight inches tall, and weighed 161 pounds. His hair was brown, he had gray eyes, and a fair complexion. He worked as a chauffeur. On August 24, 1912 he arrived at the Port of New York aboard the RMS Pannonia, set to start a new life in a new country, one full of opportunity. On March 8, 1927, married and with a young son, his Naturalization papers were submitted.

As a boy, Frank, Jr. played sandlot baseball and grew to love, and become good at, the game. Later in life he was to play professional baseball, reaching the pinnacle, the Major League, if only for a short period of time.

While it appears, Frank did not complete high school, his World War II Draft Card and his enlistment records show him working for Phelps Dodge as a skilled lineman and serviceman. Frank was a tall and lanky young man, standing six feet tall and weighing 160 pounds. He had brown hair and eyes with a ruddy complexion and a scar on his right cheek.

As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” Frank proudly served his country during World War II. He enlisted in the United States Army on November 25, 1942, in New York City as a private in the Signal Corps. His enlistment was “for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.” Frank provided his service stationed in England. Private Fanovich returned to the United States aboard the Queen Mary, docking in New York City on July 11, 1945.

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Shortly after arriving home, Frank, Jr. married his childhood sweetheart, Yolanda Franco, who often went by the name Gloria, on February 2, 1946, in Kingsbridge, Bronx. The happy couple were married for 65 years before Frank’s passing on August 27, 2011. Yolanda and Frank do not appear to have had any children, as none were mentioned in Franks obituary.

Shortly after exchanging their nuptials, “Lefty,” as Frank was nicknamed, was signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent. The young copule hitched their immediate futures to the whims of the baseball gods; i.e. managers, general managers, owners, and the talent in Frank’s left arm. He played for three different teams during the 1946 season, bouncing between the B and C minor league levels.

In 1947, Fanovich was sent/traded to the unaffiliated Watertown Athletics of the Border League; a team on the C level. Pitching in twenty-three games Fanovich compiled a 16-3 record and recorded a 2.85 earned run average. Playing in multiple positions as required, he played in a cumulative 59 games that season, In 99 at bats he legged out 32 hits for an impressive .323 batting average. Fanovich showed no power as a hitter with only three extra base hits, all doubles.

Frank Fanovich major league baseball player and later an officer with the New York City police department
Frank Fanovich major league baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds organization. Photo courtesy Baseball Reference

The Cincinnati Reds saw something they liked in the young pitcher and purchased his contract from Watertown, assigning him in 1948 to their AAA affiliate in Syracuse. For the Chiefs, he produced mixed results, compiling a 9-13 win/loss record for a team with an overall record of 77-73. While Fanovich struck out 120 batters, he struggled with control, walking 110. In a different era of baseball, the young pitcher threw thirteen complete games. With the stronger level of pitching, Franks batting numbers plunged. He hit only .219 in 64 at bats.

Things were looking up for the twenty-six-year-old pitcher as the 1949 season began. He made the roster for the Cincinnati Reds pitching out of the bullpen. He had been a starter during his minor league career but a chance in the majors was too good to overlook.

The season was not what the Reds and Fanovich might have hoped. Fanovich appeared in 29 games, compiling an 0-2 record with no saves, and a 5.40 earned run average. In only 43 innings pitched he logged 27 strikeouts and 28 base on balls. In his defense, the 1949 Reds were a poor team, finishing the season with a dismal 62-92-2 record. Fan support is what might be imagined for a team with a record like this. They finished with the lowest home attendance in the National League at just under 708,000 at Crosley Field.

With a not so grand start to his Major League career, Fanovich found himself back in the minors for the 1950 season, playing for the New York Giants AAA team, the Minneapolis Millers. Despite Fanovich providing an underwhelming 7-12 record, the Millers finished a league best 90-64. An amazing 24 players from the team spent some time in the Majors including Baseball Hall of Fame member Hoyt Wilhelm who led the team with fifteen wins.

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Frank Fanovich major league baseball player and New York City police officer
Frank Fanovich major league baseball player courtesy Findagrave 

Fanovich led a journeyman’s lifestyle for the next couple of years, bouncing around the minors, playing for four different teams before landing back in the Majors in 1953 with the Philadelphia Athletics. For Fanovich the results were much the same as in 1949. In his first game pitching for the A’s, he faced three batters, walking all of them. Pitching in only 26 games he compiled an 0-3 record and an earned run average of 5.55. His control had still not come around, issuing 37 bases on balls to go with only 37 strikeouts. The Athletics were to remain in Philadelphia for only one more season before moving to Kansas City.

The final two years of Frank Fanovich’s baseball career were spent in Richmond and San Antonio in the minor leagues. His stint in San Antonio at the AA level may have been the best of his career. He put up a 14-11 record, a 3.47 earned run average, while striking out 118 and walking only 97. His 210 innings pitched were a career high. He pitched eleven complete games including four shutouts. At age 32 it was a great way to leave the game that he had given so much to.

Fanovich posted a career MLB record of zero wins and five losses in 55 career games. His earned run average was 5.49. Fanovich was to fare better in the minors, compiling a 73-74 career win/loss record including 52 complete games. As might be expected, some minor league statistics from the period are incomplete or unavailable so it is not possible to make a full assessment of his success.

After retiring from baseball, Fanovich went on to a successful career with the New York City Police Department, eventually joining the Manhattan North Narcotics Division. He would work for NYPD for 27 years before he and Yolanda would retire to New Smyrna Beach in 1987.

In his retirement years, Frank enjoyed a good game of golf, often on the Hidden Lakes course near where he and Yolanda lived. He also retained his love of baseball, keeping up with his beloved New York Yankees.


After having led a full life, Fanovich passed away on August 27, 2011 at the age of 88. His remains are interred at Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in Edgewater, FL, in the All-Faiths Mausoleum.

Frank Fanovich was a major league baseball player and later officer with the New York City police department. Frank and his wife Yolanda are interred at Sea Pines Cemetery in Edgewater, FL in the All Faiths Mausoleum.
Frank & Yolanda Fanovich are interred in the All Faiths Mausoleum at Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in Edgewater, FL

An online memorial to Frank Fanovich may be found HERE. A memorial for Yolanda Fanovich may be found HERE.

Frank Fanovich was as major league baseball player and New York City police officer, living the dream of millions of boys and young men.

To read the stories of other Major League Baseball players associated with Volusia County, click HERE.

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