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Doctor Faces Upgraded Charges In Deadly Smithtown Crash

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island cardiologist is facing upgraded charges in connection with a deadly crash earlier this year.

Thomas Stavola, 55, of Setauket was indicted Monday on manslaughter and other charges in the death of aspiring nurse, Monica Peterman.

Peterman, 45, of Middle Island was on her way to work when her car was struck on East Main Street and Route 111 in Smithtown on June 14. She was pronounced dead at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, where she worked as a dialysis technician.

Doctor Faces Upgraded Charges In Deadly Smithtown Crash

Stavola allegedly fled the scene on foot and was later caught by police, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Officers at the scene reported Stavola smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech, and red eyes, Spota said.

He tested positive for alcohol in his system 90 minutes after the crash and was initially charged with driving while intoxicated, Spota said.

Stavola is now charged with second-degree manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, reckless driving, and DWI.

"Dr. Stavola is a devoted father, revered doctor, and well respected member of his community," attorney Alex Spiro said in a statement. "This terrible accident remains a tragedy for everyone involved."

Peterman's family heard disturbing details from the indictment unsealed against Dr. Stavola on Monday.

"This whole process is emotionally draining, so we are trying to hold on to do what we need to do what we need to do to make sure justice prevails," Peterman's mother Barbara Sims said.

"It hurts. I can't even talk about it," husband Russell Peterman said.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, the widower described Peterman as a woman devoted to her three children, church, and medical community.

"What I find so disturbing is that this was a physician who could have rendered medical aid to this woman, or at the very minimum, because he has his cell phone in his pocket, could have called police or some aid of anykind whatsoever," Spota said.

Peterman's family filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit earlier this year.

Instead, the DA said the doctor collected his backpack and fled the scene on foot.

When police found him his blood alcohol level measured .12. A judge was told that Dr. Stavola had been drinking at a gentleman's club.

"He should be held accountable for his actions. The justice is what it is, his decisions were wrong, but as a family we don't hold it against him, we forgive him," the victim's son Bryan Greaves said.

The Petermans said in their mother's name they must be loving and compassionate, but it is difficult. They noted that with Dr. Stavola out on bail, he will be able to spend the holidays with his family, while they must endure without their cherished matriarch.

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