If immortality can be found in the hearts of the many people a man has touched during his time on earth, then Steven F. Kane will live forever.
Since his tragic death last week, when he was struck while cycling on Route 25 in Calverton by a man charged with driving high on methadone with four children in the car, scores of emotional tributes have poured in not only from beloved family members, but from colleagues and fellow cyclists who shared his passion.
Kane, a Brightwaters resident who would have turned 58 on Wednesday, is mourned by his colleagues at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he was a safety manager.
Linda Greves, who worked at BNL with Kane, said he was in a "great mood" last Thursday, when she last saw him the day he died. "He literally had us all laughing as he was going down the hall to go out to lunch for his bike ride," she said.
Greves, who knew Kane for 20 years, added that Kane's intelligence and experience was known across the country. "He had expertise in so many areas that people would call on him for his knowledge from all over the country. He really was brilliant," she said. "This tragic death of a man that had so much more life to live hit me really hard, as it did many others. He was loved by many – the boundaries of which were far wider than BNL. We are all devastated here and are having a really difficult time with this."
Greves added that Kane's love for his family was steadfast. "He was very private when it came to his family, but once you got him to open up he spoke with total adoration about all of them. We will be totally lost without him. It was a honor and a pleasure to have known him all these years and I will miss him always."
Frederick Horn, who also worked with Kane at BNL, remembered his colleague -- and friend. "Steve was a standup guy and my supervisor. He and I shared a mutual respect for each other’s knowledge. He told it like it is, what you saw is what you got," he said. "He didn’t tolerate work that was sloppy or undependable, however, if you were correct about anything, or if he felt that there was an injustice, he would defend you to the last man at any level. I come from a military background and I know that there are not many with the integrity, knowledge or courage that Steve had. I will miss him and always remember him as a mentor and friend."
Tina Morrison, senior editor, quality management Office, BNL, worked with Kane on procedures at BNL for several years. She said she was "lucky enough to see another side of him that was not always apparent to others. His dynamic presence, honesty, dry sense of humor, and vast knowledge and expertise as a safety engineer was nonpareil and is a huge loss to BNL and the world at large."
Kane, she said, "was always respectful and a gentleman -- never too busy to explain a process to help me better understand and accurately capture the essence of it accurately in words."
Out of the office, Morrison described a man who loved his family and friends deeply.
"His devotion to his family and friends leave a void that cannot be filled, but our memories and the legacy of his good works remain, and can help heal the pain. One of my fondest memories is of Steve bouncing into my office to discuss work, closing the door, and saying, 'What’s happening?' in a conspiratorial tone with that boyish smile and impish, mischievous twinkle glint in his blue eyes. I will miss my friend and cannot fathom that he was taken from us so abruptly without one last good-bye."
Morrison said she is outraged over how Kane died. "It is imperative that the brazen and selfishly cruel individual responsible for cutting Steve's life short is put away behind bars for a long, long time. We need to enact tougher laws to keep offenders from falling through the cracks in the system and off the roads."
Joseph Falco of BNL remembered Kane as a man who was "quirky, funny, brilliant, no-nonsense, earnest and, in sum, a most highly valued colleague and a truly wonderful person. This is a terrible loss for the Laboratory and for all of us."
Edward Nowak, manager of the Safety and Health Services Division at BNL, under whom Steve worked, commended his colleague's depth of expertise. “Steven Kane’s professional and technical knowledge, the depth of his skills, and vast expertise in many different areas of critical safety, are recognized internationally and throughout all the national Laboratories. Steve was known as a ‘professional engineer’s' engineer," he said.
Kane, he said, was also a "generous mentor" to young people aspiring to be professional engineers.
"Steve was truly a one-of-a-kind-individual. He was extremely principled, and conducted his work with a firm conviction of his principles and sense of ethics. His unsurpassed, no-nonsense commitment to the Lab and to the safety profession, and his extensive work with the American Society of Safety Engineers, are second to none. Filling his shoes will be very difficult. This is a great loss to the Lab, and to many friends and co-workers," he said.
George Goode, Assistant Laboratory Director, Environment, Safety & Health Directorate at BNL, said a friend and coworker was lost when he was struck while cycling. "Steve Kane, a brilliant safety engineer, father, recent grandfather, and avid cyclist lost his life doing what he loved. It’s a terrible loss, and reminder of how quickly our lives can change and how dangerous our roads can be," he said.
Keith Klaus, who worked in the safety and health division with Kane at BNL, said there was tragic irony in his death.
"Steve was a brilliant man whose focus was on improving safety for those around him. Steve was a nationally recognized authority, who had keen insight on many different aspects of health and safety. Steve's energy, wit, knowledge and expertise will sorely be missed by those who knew him and worked with him. This horrific incident is truly a tragedy of the highest magnitude. Steve cared deeply for each and every member of his group and we are devastated by this senseless loss."
Paul Coluccio, current president of the East End Cycling Team, where he has been a member since 1993, said Kane's tragedy is unspeakable.
"Over the years our cycling community and our team, in particular, has experienced several tragic incidents involving motorists, but none I can think of that are as horrible as what happened to Steve."
Coluccio recalled a recent cyclo-cross race in Providence. "I was racing in the 45+ age group, and Steven was in the 55+ group, starting two minutes behind. I had no idea Steve was going to be there, so when I saw some guy wearing our team jersey lining up in the field behind mine I took note of it. Well, about two laps into my race, he catches up to my and in a matter of seconds had dropped me in his dust. This happened on both days. To make a long story short, Steve was a guy who was not only physically fit, but had the talent and instincts to handle his bike in delicate situations. One does not have success in cyclo-cross without those elements."
The area and the road Kane was riding on at the time of his death is a familiar one to many area cyclists, Coluccio said. "To hear that someone died while he was innocently doing something we love in a place that he probably felt pretty safe just makes me feel all the more vulnerable."
Coluccio, too, believes justice should be sought. "It seems to me that there was a man behind the wheel of a car, and he had no right to be there. It also appears there were four children sitting in that vehicle, and it seems to me that although those children had the right to be there, they shouldn't have been, for their own welfare. Steve Kane was doing something that every law abiding citizen has the right to do -- go for a bike ride during his lunch break, and his family and friends must now grieve the loss of his life. There is nothing right about that."
Jack Ellercamp, another BNL colleague, said Kane was a true leader. "Steve was our pillar of strength, a true big brother who treated us like professionals and brothers-in arms, and protected us all from those who would try to show us as the enemy. It was my privilege to know him for over 25 years. We will all miss him."
Sarah Mahler said it was an honor to work with Kane over the past seven years.
"What I most remember about him was his love of family. Each year at Christmastime, he would tell tales of baking batches and batches of cookies with his daughters. A year and a half ago, I had identical twin daughters. Steve has identical twin daughters. Who better to swap stories with about the joys of twins? Most people 'wished me luck' when I had my girls, but Steve wholeheartedly wished me years and years of happiness, as he had with his girls. He had such a quirky, fun sense of humor that will be missed. It is a terrible loss to so many."
Members of the American Society of Safety Engineers mourned their former director and long-time member. "We are stunned and devastated by this sudden and tragic loss,” ASSE President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, said.
Phil Harrington, who worked with Kane for years at BNL, shared his love of cycling; he said Kane was passionate about putting safety first.
"Steve was an avid cyclist, as am I. He was a few levels above my abilities, but I know that he always practiced safe cycling practices by wearing a helmet, using a rearview mirror, etc. That’s one of the reasons that I found his death so devastating. The stretch of road he was on, the same stretch that many of us also ride all the time, is straight as an arrow with a wide shoulder. I have always considered it to be one of nicest stretches in the entire town of Riverhead. And yet even with this, a life was lost." He added, "This senseless accident shows that all of us need to be aware that, whether walking, running, or cycling, we are all prone to the foolish and pointless acts of others."
A wake for Steven Kane will take place on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Chapey’s Funeral Home, 1225 Montauk Highway, in West Islip, NY.
Funeral services will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 500 South Country Road, Bay Shore, NY. Cremation to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Steven Kane’s name to Livestrong.
To honor their friend and comrade, The East End Cycling Team will be doing two tribute rides on Friday morning after his final service at St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church, 500 South Country Road, in Bay Shore. The first will leave after the 10 a.m. funeral service. First, cyclists will be doing a short tour of the lakes of Brightwaters, then embarking upon a longer ride out to Brookhaven National Lab and Calverton.