Watch CBS News

Suffolk County Police Officer Undergoes Brain Surgery After Being Struck By Alleged Drunk Driver

YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Long Island police officer is in intensive care after undergoing brain surgery. His injuries stem from a crash police say was caused by a drunk driver.

"We came close to losing a life of one of our members," Suffolk County Police Department Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron said.

Cameron said he was not ready to release the injured officer's name until his children could speak to him, but shared he's an "asset" to the force, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported.

"You can say what the officer was doing is routine, but police work is never routine. There's an element of danger to every single thing we do," Cameron said.

At around 12 a.m. Wednesday, the 35-year-old officer was closing William Floyd Parkway southbound at Yaphank Woods Boulevard due to an earlier accident, when investigators say 38-year-old William Petersohn, of Mastic, slammed into a GMC Yukon, causing a chain reaction of events.

Police say the officer had his patrol car blocking the road with its lights on, forcing drivers to make a right or a U-turn, when the driver of the Yukon pulled over to ask a question. That's when police say Petersohn, in a pick-up, crashed into the SUV.

"So the impact spun that vehicle around and the Yukon struck our police officer and he ended up underneath the Yukon. The pick-up continued on and hit our marked patrol car," Cameron said.

The commissioner commended first responders for a fast, life-saving response as they sent a helicopter and immediately called Suffolk County Police medical director Dr. James Vosswinkel.

"What happened prehospital last night was beyond imperative the way things went down," Vosswinkel said.

Once at Stony Brook University Hospital, doctors were able to quickly identify the officer needed brain surgery.

"An epidural hematoma is a life-threatening fatal head injury. When you have this type of severity, it shows the impact the officer sustained," Vosswinkel said.

The officer is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator in the ICU.

"Keep our officer and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We are optimistic that he will fully recover and, again, that's due to the great care that he received," Cameron said.

Petersohn, who was also taken to the hospital with serious injuries, was charged with driving while intoxicated, and will be arraigned at a later date.

The driver of the Yukon who initially stopped to talk to the police officer was not injured. The injured officer has been with Suffolk County Police for three years. Prior to that, he was a New York City correction officer and worked for the MTA.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.