FRESH MEADOWS, Queens — A veteran NYPD officer was killed overnight, while working on a Queens highway, when he was struck by an intoxicated driver who initially fled the scene, according to police.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea identified the victim as 43-year-old highway officer Anastasios Tsakos at a Tuesday morning press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
After an earlier accident, the officer was helping divert traffic off the Long Island Expressway, near the Clearview Expressway, around 2 a.m. when a car veered and struck him head on, before speeding off, police said.
Tsakos was initially transported to a Flushing hospital in critical condition, but later succumbed to his injuries, the NYPD said.
A 14-year member of the force, Tsakos leaves behind a wife and two young children, a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, de Blasio said.
Police were able to catch up to the car a short time later and took the driver, a 32-year-old Long Island woman, into custody, authorities said.
According to the commissioner, the woman was intoxicated and driving with a suspended license when she fatally struck the officer.
The Queens District Attorney’s Office later said Jessica Beauvais, of Hempstead, is facing a slew of charges, including manslaughter, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting/death, unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the second and third degree, operating a motor vehicle while under influence of alcohol or drugs, as a felony, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operating motor vehicle while under influence of alcohol, reckless driving, and operating a vehicle approaching parked, stopped, standing authorized emergency vehicle.
According to the charges, Queens DA Melinda Katz said the defendant was removed to the 112th police precinct where she submitted to an intoxilyzer test, which was administered over 2 hours after the fatal crash. The results of the test showed the defendant allegedly had a blood alcohol content of .15 – which is above the legal limit of .08 in New York City.
When asked if police believe Beauvais was aware she hit the officer, Shea said, “When you see the images of her car, and the windshield that is completely shattered…there is no way to not know that you struck an individual.”
If convicted, Beauvais faces up to 15 years in prison.
The eastbound side of the Long Island Express was closed Tuesday morning from Exit 25 / Utopia Parkway to Exit 27 / Clearview Expressway as authorities continued their investigation.
Watch the NYPD and mayor’s press conference in full below: