As many as 1,000 people are expected to attend a funeral Friday for a 43-year-old Salinas police officer who died while participating in a motorcycle race in Las Vegas last weekend. Officer Joseph Pusateri died Sunday after an accident in Western Eastern Roadracing Association competition at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Salinas police Detective Lalo Villegas said. Pusateri had ridden motorcycles all his life and had started entering competitions in the past few years, Villegas said. After his death, the Police Department sent officers to Las Vegas to escort Pusateri’s body back to Salinas. Members of several law enforcement agencies joined the procession along the route, he said. Pusateri was hired by the Salinas Police Department in 2005 after starting his career with the Watsonville Police Department in 1999. In Salinas, he served as a field training officer, a member of the department’s SWAT team, its bicycle unit, firearms range staff, and as a
motorcycle officer. Because of budget cuts, Pusateri had been transferred back to the patrol unit, where he had been for about two weeks prior to his death, Villegas said. Pusateri “always had a smile on his face” and was known in the department as a great mechanic, Villegas said. He had worked as a mechanic before becoming a police officer. Fellow officers who needed help with their cars or bikes came to Pusateri, Villegas said. “Joe was always offering his services,” Villegas said. “He knew his cars, he knew his bicycles.”Pusateri lived in Salinas and is survived by his wife and children. Between 700 and 1,000 people are expected to attend Friday’s funeral, including police officers from elsewhere in the Bay Area and the state, Villegas said.
The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at Madonna Del Sasso Parish at 320 E. Laurel Drive in Salinas. It will be followed by a procession to the Queen of Heaven Cemetery at 18200 Damian Way.
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