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TRUMBULL COUNTY Retiring deputy sheriff recalls on-the-job hazards and humor



Published: Tue, February 24, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 30-year veteran retired Saturday and starts a new job Monday.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Lt. Dan D'Annunzio is leaving the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department while there is still something left of him.

After 30 years of service, D'Annunzio has jumped from an exploding car, been shot, stabbed, kicked by a deer and bitten by a wild turkey.

"It's been fun," D'Annunzio said as he flashed his trademark smile. "Many people, even my wife, are surprised I'm still in one piece."

As he reflected on his tenure, the 52-year-old Niles man said it was the routine calls for service that turned out to be the shockers.

He noted that when he was shot he was responding to a burglary. The stabbing happened at a call about disorderly conduct.

His favorite memories, however, involve animals.

"This was in the mid-1980s when my partner and I were driving to Southington for a domestic dispute," D'Annunzio said. "It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and the couple had a wild turkey. The husband wanted to shoot it for the holiday dinner and the wife objected."

Left his mark

Before the couple made a decision on the bird's fate, the turkey decided it was time for a bite.

"The turkey bit me right on the butt," D'Annunzio said with a laugh. "And then, the darn thing started jumping on my feet. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but I later learned that is what turkey's do when they want to mate. I guess it liked me."

The couple decided not to kill the bird, the deputy said.

"I was really glad the bird's life was saved," D'Annunzio said. "I have a soft spot for animals, and that's how I got in trouble with the deer."

D'Annunzio said he was patrolling the roads in Fowler Township when a deer hit his cruiser. He got out and saw the injured deer on the side of the road.

"He was still breathing and I was ordered to shoot it," D'Annunzio said. "I kept talking to him and hoping he would get up and run off. I really didn't want to kill him. So wouldn't you know it the darn thing ends up kicking me before he runs off. I'm telling you, it was a good thing I had my bulletproof vest on. That kick knocked me off the ground."

Detective work

D'Annunzio said that even though he enjoyed working the road, it was his work in the detective bureau that made him feel as though he made a difference in the community.

His time in the detective bureau helped county law officials solve a 15-year-old double homicide.

The detective was able to secure a statement from a man who said when he was 9 he witnessed his mother stab his stepfather. That statement helped prosecutors convict Judith Morris Delgros of the January 1978 murders of her husband, Donald Morris, and son Christopher Stiles. Her son was killed in a fire set to cover up the murder of Morris, authorities said. She is serving two consecutive life sentences.

His last day at the sheriff's department was Saturday, and D'Annunzio says his "relaxing retirement" will be over within 24 hours.

"On Monday, I start my job with the U.S. Marshals Service in Cleveland," D'Annunzio said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

His assignment will be to provide security at the federal offices in downtown Cleveland.

With a wink, he explained his reasoning for returning to work in law enforcement.

"Some habits are hard to break."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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