END OF WATCH: September 29, 1960
Cleveland Police Department
On September 1, 1955, Martin Mrugacz was appointed to the Cleveland Police Department where he served for five years, two of them as a detective. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #8, American Legion Police Post #438, the Knights of Columbus, as well as many other clubs.
On September 29, 1960 Detectives Mrugacz and Edward Kadunc were returning to Central Station from a 10:30 pm assignment when they were involved in a car accident. Mrugacz died instantly after being crushed between the seat and dashboard of the car.
Their police car veered out of control, swerved to the opposite side of the road, and plowed into the front-end of a commercial trailer that was parked beside the south curb of Mayflower. The police vehicle, moving at a high rate of speed, rammed the trailer at a slight angle causing the roof of the car to rip back after contact with the front-end overhang on the trailer. The impact pushed the trailer back fifteen feet and the police car the opposite way another fifteen feet. Skid marks indicated the car tried to avoid the crash.
The accident remains a mystery. There were no known witnesses. Kadunc, under heavy sedation with head cuts, neck injury, and a broken finger, said that while sorting papers in his lap, he remembered bright lights to his right as they headed down on Mayflower.
A passerby, who had not seen the accident, said he spotted two sets of headlights and heard two squeals of brakes just before the crash.
Investigation eliminated three possibilities: mechanical failure, possible heart attack, and swerving to avoid a collision. They found traces of a different kind of paint on the car. Another car was found with traces of paint on it but investigation proved to be from a fire hydrant. Coroner Samuel R. Gerber disclosed the officer had had something to drink before the accident but was not intoxicated.
Martin Mrugacz was survived by his wife Sylvia, two children, Tony and Monica, parents, Martin and Victoria; brother, Ronald; and a beloved nephew.
Funds were received by Mrs. Mrugacz from Bluecoats, Inc. and the Wayman Thomasson Fund.
Martin Mrugacz’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 47, west wall, line 11.
By Recruit Lenita Walker Page, Cleveland Police Academy