DMV officer found dead in Hamden used to work in Old Lyme

Hamden — It wasn’t too long ago that Rob Tyson was spending his weekends in Old Lyme, patrolling town beaches or keeping a watchful eye on bustling festivities.

A part-time officer for the five or so years leading up to summer 2016, he maintained a calm demeanor and garnered respect from his coworkers, according to First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Tyson, a New Haven resident, left last summer to devote more time to his full-time job as a sergeant with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Reemsnyder said.

On Saturday evening, police found him unconscious behind a building on State Street in Hamden. Emergency personnel rendered medical assistance and transported him to Yale New Haven Hospital, but it was too late. At age 40, Tyson was pronounced dead.

According to police, the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy Sunday. Medical examiner officials said the cause of death was pending further study. Police said no foul play is suspected.

“We’re devastated here,” Reemsnyder said, explaining that she often had cordial exchanges with the former officer.

Reemsnyder, offering condolences to Tyson’s family and friends, said it seemed he had a stellar career ahead of him.

“It hits hard when you lose someone so young,” she said.

According to DMV spokesman Bill Seymour, Tyson signed on in 2007 as an inspector. In the years that followed, he won assignments on commercial vehicle teams, the compliance review unit and the student transportation unit.

In 2012, Seymour said, the department promoted Tyson to sergeant. Most recently he was supervisor of the West Truck Team.

“DMV extends its deepest sympathies to his family, friends and co-workers during this incredibly difficult time,” Seymour wrote in an email. “We will certainly all miss him.”

Reached by phone Monday, Old Lyme Patrolman Dominic Solari said it’s not uncommon for the department to hire DMV employees as part-timers. Many of them don’t work the weekends, which frees them up to assist Old Lyme during its busy summer season.

Solari described Tyson as a community-oriented officer who always was happy. Wherever Tyson went, Solari said, laughter followed.

“Whenever he was here, the shift went a lot faster,” Solari said. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

From 2001 to 2007, Tyson worked as a physical education teacher at Amistad Academy Middle School in New Haven. According to the New Haven Register, Tyson was a gifted athlete himself, a long jumper who missed the 2000 U.S. Olympic trials by just an inch and a half.

In a Facebook post, Achievement First, the parent company of Amistad Academy, described Tyson as “an icon and an inspiration” who won the honor of handing out perfect attendance awards because he never missed a day of work.

“He inspired countless Amistad Academy students to push forward and pursue their own dreams,” the company said in its post. “We will always love and remember our great teacher Rob Tyson.”

The Connecticut Police and Fire Union also took to Facebook in honor of Tyson.

“Rob was a good friend, co-worker, police officer and a tremendous individual,” the union wrote. “While we anxiously await the results of the autopsy and police investigation, we keep Rob's family and girlfriend in our thoughts and prayers.”

l.boyle@theday.com

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