Monday, March 4, 2013


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Drunk driver injures on-duty Suffolk County police officer

PATCHOGUE - Suffolk County Police are investigating a motor vehicle crash in which a Suffolk County police officer was injured when his police cruiser was rear-ended by a drunk driver.

Suffolk County police were conducting a follow-up search at the crime scene of a fatal motor vehicle crash that occurred earlier in the day on Sunrise Highway, between North Ocean Avenue and Waverly Avenue in Patchogue.

The area of the search was on the north shoulder of the westbound express portion of Sunrise Highway. In an attempt to make the scene safe for the search, Police Officer Brian Smales of the Highway Patrol Bureau placed his car, with emergency lights activated, on the right shoulder of the road, outside the lane of traffic.

Shortly after Officer Smales parked his vehicle, a car driven by Salvatore Distefano, 29, struck the rear of the police vehicle.

An investigation determined that Distefano acted recklessly by failing to exercise care by slowing down and moving over to safely pass an emergency vehicle, in violation of New York State’s “Move Over Law”. This law, enacted in 2012, is designed to protect police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers from being injured by passing vehicles.

Distefano was arrested at the scene for drunk driving and then transported to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue where he was treated for facial lacerations and released.

Police Officer Smales was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was treated for head, neck, back and leg injuries and released.

Distefano, of 923 Kirkland Ct., Central Islip, was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Assault 3rd Degree and violating New York State’s “Move Over Law”. He is being held at the Fifth Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Central Islip.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Vehicular Crimes Unit at 631-852-6295.