A Suffolk County police officer was arrested on Tuesday, Sept. 27 after getting into a fatal collision in West Islip. The Long Island policeman, who was not on duty at the time of the deadly accident, was charged with reckless endangerment after he headed east around 4:30 a.m. in the westbound lane of the Sunrise Highway.
According to police sources, the officer was driving his 2000 Nissan Pathfinder in the wrong lane when it collided with a 2016 Ford van on the road between the 39 and 40 highway exits. Following the head-on crash, the van caught on fire. The van's driver died at the crash site. Police have not released his name.
The off-duty police office was transported to a hospital on Long Island, and doctors expect that he will recover. Additional charges may be filed against him, police sources said, after detectives conclude their investigation of the fiery fatal crash. He was placed on suspension without pay until further notice.
While it's true that an accident can happen to anyone, it is especially egregious when a vehicle travels the wrong way on a highway or interstate, bypassing signage to that effect, and collides head-on at a high rate of speed with another vehicle. If the at-fault driver was a police officer who is sworn to uphold the law, the negligence is even more glaring.
Grieving family members can follow the criminal cases against negligent drivers who are charged with criminal offenses in such accidents, but they also have recourse through the New York civil courts should they decide to file wrongful death litigation.
Source: New York Daily News, "Off-duty Long Island cop busted for fatal car crash in wrong lane," Thomas Tracy, Sep. 27, 2016