James Rovella recounts losing friend, former co-worker in Bradley Airport crash

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WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — James Rovella, Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, has now dealt with the first major disaster under his administration: Wednesday’s deadly crash at Bradley Airport.

What made it even harder was losing his good friend, Gary Mazzone.

Related: Officials release names of those involved in B-17 plane crash at Bradley Airport

The pair used to work cold cases together for the attorney’s office.

“He was always pulling a prank on you,” Rovella said. “He was always making you smile. He was always giving us a lot of laughter. But I got to tell ya, when he chased a homicide for us … you just don’t want him chasing you, because he turns over every stone.”

It was with a heavy heart and profound loss that the commissioner read the names of the seven deceased passengers on board the B-17.

He also read off the names of the survivors, including two Simsbury firefighters and a command chief with the Air National Guard, who is able to rescue people off the plane.

“He had a broken arm, but he was still able to open the door and get people out,” Rovella said. “I think those are the stories, along with their lives, you need to know, and for us to hold all that information back, we would just do a disservice.”

Governor Ned Lamont and Rovella believe strongly in transparency, adding that they wanted to get the names out as quickly as possible.

Rovella said by releasing the names as soon as they could, they didn’t trickle out but all the lives were celebrated at the same time if the families wanted to participate.

“Showing the lives of how these folks lived, not the death, but showing how they lived,” he said.

State Police worked around the clock, identifying people and notifying loved ones.

It took them 30 hours from the time of the crash to release the names — something Rovella said was important.

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