05/03/2007

N.Y. officer rammed by drunk driver, suffers head trauma

Editor's Note -- "This incident must remind all officers of the inherent danger that we face each day," says police driving expert Capt. Travis Yates.

"Traffic stops, especially at night, can be very dangerous. Impaired drivers can be visually drawn to the flashing lights on a patrol car and drive straight into the squad. Drivers under the influence will also sometimes drive on portions of the shoulder in an effort to avoid oncoming traffic. While officers cannot totally eliminate this danger, they can be cognizant of where they choose to stop a car. 

"
Always remember, if you don't feel comfortable with the location of a traffic stop, wait to stop the violator or make them move to another location."

Newsday

LONG ISLAND, New York — A Bayside man was arrested and charged with drunken driving after he slammed - at an estimated 60 mph - into the rear end of a stopped patrol cruiser early Thursday morning on the Long Island Expressway's right shoulder near Exit 43, seriously injuring a highway patrol officer, Nassau police said.

Nassau police Officer Edwin Martinez had pulled over a car for a traffic stop, for speeding, and his cruiser was parked on the shoulder in a reduced-speed construction zone about a quarter-mile east of South Oyster Bay Road at 12:08 a.m., the police said.

The patrol car was hit by a 2003 Mercedes Benz driven by Yookyung Kim, 19, of 224-28 64th Ave. in Bayside, who was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, the police said.

Martinez, a 12-year Nassau police veteran, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center where he was admitted in serious but stable condition, with head trauma.

Martinez had been assigned to work the construction zone on the LIE to crack down on speeders, County Executive Thomas Suozzi said at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.

Suozzi checked on Martinez in the hospital's intensive care unit hours after the crash, but said he was sleeping so he spoke instead to the officer's wife. Suozzi said the couple has children.

Police Commissioner James Lawrence also visited the officer in the hospital. Lawrence said the officer suffered head trauma, but no broken bones were detected.

Police would not comment on how investigators determined Kim was driving under the influence of alcohol and said they did not know how or where he spent the hours prior to the crash.

The construction zone speed limit was 45 mph. The officer's cruiser was forced forward by the impact and struck the stopped vehicle, a 2007 Nissan whose driver, Andrew Mericle, 27, of Oyster Bay, was treated for injuries and released from the medical center. Three other occupants of Mericle's car were uninjured.

Kim was taken to the medical center, where he was treated for his injuries. He is currently in custody at the detention center at Nassau police headquarters in Mineola. A passenger in Kim's car also was treated at the medical center and released.

Kim was charged with driving while intoxicated and was scheduled for arraignment Thursday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Copyright 2007 Newsday

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