Shandaken officer killed in Route 28 accident

By Jay Braman Jr.
The sudden death of a Shandaken Police Officer has shocked the community this week.

Today, Wednesday, Shokan resident Travis Nissen, who was only 27 years old, will be laid to rest in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the Shandaken hamlet of Mount Tremper, five days after he was killed in a car accident on Route 28 in Shokan.

According to police, Nissan was on his way home from visiting family on Friday evening when, at about 10:30 p.m. his car went off the highway and struck a utility pole. Nissen was reportedly alone in the car and was wearing a seatbelt.

Police also say there appears to be no evidence of speeding or alcohol, though routine toxicology tests are underway.

Nissen was a 2002 graduate of the Onteora Central School and a 2005 graduate of Ulster Community College. Besides working with the Shandaken Police Department, Nissen joined the Town of Ulster Police Department in 2006. Most recently he worked for that department as the school resource officer at the Miller Middle School in Lake Katrine, remaining with Shandaken, the force he started with, as a part-time officer.

Shandaken’s Officer in Charge, James McGrath, was particularly hard hit by the news. Nissen was his nephew.

“He started his career with me,” McGrath said Tuesday while preparing to go to funeral services held in Kingston.

“He’s my nephew, but he was like a son to me. He was so well grounded and such a great kid. Well, he’s not a kid anymore, he’s a man. A good man.”

Ulster Town Supervisor James Quigley described Nissen as “a rising star” in the police department and said that the loss would be felt for some time to come.

Nissen’s wife, Kristy, is a special education teacher at the middle school. They were married in August.

His other survivors include his mother, Mary R. Merck, father, David F. Nissen, stepfather, Richard J. Merck, brothers Greg Pettinato and Kyle L. Nissen, grandparents Dorothy Jacks and Pat Merck, and cousins, aunts and uncles.

His funeral arraignments were by the Keyser Funeral Home Service in Kingston.