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NOCoE News: Remembering Joey Sagal

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November 2, 2023

Thank you, Joey Sagal

By: Adam Hopps, Interim Director, National Operations Center of Excellence
As Joey would say before sharing a more personal thought: “We’re all friends here, so I think I can say this . . ."

This has been an incredibly difficult week for us at NOCoE as we learned of the sudden and tragic death of Joey Sagal. We mourn with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company, Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company, and of course Joey’s family and all those who loved and cherished him. 

Joey was one of the most generous people I know. He always had time to help produce an idea, to lend his expertise, to talk you through a difficult decision. While running a large public agency, he also regularly served as a volunteer firefighter, and he volunteered for NOCoE to help guide our technical services. 

It is his nature - he made himself available for the greater good, always.

The last email I got from him was at midnight when he was on an overnight shift in his volunteer firehouse while catching up on work he volunteered to do for us here at NOCoE. That is Joey. 

Joey’s career pathway to becoming the head of an agency and a transportation leader did not start as an engineer or planner – Joey started as a first responder. His entry into transportation was to save lives, to help people face-to-face. In all the guidance he gave to NOCoE, he made sure we stayed focused on doing work to protect the responders and protect people’s lives. He worried about his safety service patrol drivers and the public out on the road and worked tirelessly to keep them safe. And when he would discuss the importance of safety service patrols, fire, and EMT responders, I’d often think, as many would, that if I was stranded on the side of the road or stuck in a car crash, Joey would be the exact person I’d want to show up first at the scene. 

Joey could light up a room. He was sweet, he was kind, and in a world of busy people, he always took the time to care. When you got the flu in the middle of a work trip, he was the person running to the drug store to get you supplies. When you were anxious to get home to your family, he was the first person to offer help getting the important work done so you could go home to see your kids. Joey was always reminding us: 

“Go be with your kids.”
“Family first, always.”
“They’re all that matters.”

These reminders from him will stick in my head forever. 

Joey’s leadership and ideas and spirit will guide the work we do at NOCoE for many years to come. Our mission was Joey’s mission, after all. So, as we come out of the shock, we will focus on the good work we can do here at NOCoE, just as Joey would. 

We will focus on keeping people safe, as Joey would. 

We will focus on treating our colleagues and family and friends with grace and kindness and generosity, as Joey would.

And we will go spend more time with our family and kids, as Joey would. 

In the meantime, as Joey would say: Stay safe. Be well.

Honoring Joey Sagal

All details available here.

Ruck Funeral Home
1050 York Rd Towson, Md. 21204

Saturday 11/4 from 2-4pm and 6-8pm 
Sunday 11/5 from 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Celebration of Life Service
Trinity Life Church 
2122 West Joppa Rd 
Lutherville, Md. 21093

Monday 11/6 at 10am

The celebration of life will be immediately followed by a processional back to Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company
40 E Sudbrook Lane 
Pikesville, MD 21208 for a luncheon.

About the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE)

NOCoE provides services to the transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) community to saves lives, improve travel times, and enhance economic vitality. With an emphasis on workforce development, NOCoE aims to assist in the deployment of technologies and the mainstreaming of TSMO solutions by fostering education, networking, communication, and knowledge transfer.

For more information, please visit
Contact Us
National Operations Center of Excellence
555 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Ph: 202.624.5478

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