Officer Anastasios Tsakos was a 14-year veteran of the department. The 43-year-old leaves behind a wife, 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
"Last night when most of us were sleeping, there were New York City police officers out putting themselves at risk," New York City Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.
WATCH: NYPD, Mayor Provide Update On Police Officer Struck And Killed
Tsakos was helping divert traffic off the highway around 2 a.m. following another fatal crash in Fresh Meadows, Queens.
Police say a car carrying four people slammed into a concrete wall and burst into flames. At least one person died.
As police were investigating, Tsakos was directing traffic around the scene.
Prosecutors allege 32-year-old Jessica Beauvais, of Hempstead, was speeding, swerved to avoid other cars and hit Tsakos with her Volkswagen as he stood next to his marked vehicle, catapulting him into the air.
"Police officer who died saving other police officers. His partner yelled out and other police officers were able to get out of the way," Lynch said.
Tsakos was rushed to New York Presbyterian Queens Hospital, where he died hours later.
"It is devastating to speak to his widow. Two young children that are going to grow up without a father," said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Prosecutors claim Beauvais kept driving, dragging a safety cone with her windshield shattered, past several exits before turning off Horace Harding Expressway, where her car jumped the curb and police surrounded her.
As CBS2's Ali Bauman reports, prosecutors allege Beauvais' car backed up, hitting a police car behind her twice before coming to a stop. That's when she was arrested.
Prosecutors claim police body cam video captured her asking an officer, "What did I do?"
Beauvais, who according to authorities has a history of traffic violations, was taken to court late Tuesday afternoon, crying and apologizing, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I hit him and that he's dead," Beauvais said.
She faces a long list of charges, including vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and reckless endangerment.
Police said Beauvais had a suspended license, and sources told CBS2 she blew a .15 -- more than double the legal limit.
"When you see the images of her car and the windshield that is completely shattered, as well as damage to the front of the car, there is no way to not know that you struck an individual," Shea said.
Leading up to the tragedy, Beauvais was at a studio hosting a podcast using the name Phoenix Michel. It streamed for about two hours on Facebook, Carlin reported.
Prosecutors allege Beauvais admitted to police she was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before she got in the car and said she didn't know where she was going and followed GPS.
Outside Beauvais' Long Island home family members said little, but one neighbor weighed in on what she described as decisions that take and ruin lives.
"I feel bad for her. She should not have been out there, period. But a family has been destroyed," Earlene Hooper said.
Beauvais is the sole provider for her 13-year-old son.
She kept her head down during the arraignment Tuesday night while prosecutors detailed the 13-count complaint and is now being held without bail.
Watch Dave Carlin's report --
The driver in the first crash also had a suspended license and was believed to be intoxicated.
"We see here a horrendous pattern -- people doing the wrong thing, and other people dead because of it. And one of them a hero officer, who did everything right in his life for us, and he is dead because of other people's negligence," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Beauvais is due back in court later this month. If convicted of the charges, she could face up to 15 years in prison.
CBS2's John Dias, Dave Carlin and Ali Bauman contributed to this report
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