A 43-year-old public safety officer was convicted on charges of aggravated DWI following the July 2011 death of a patient seeking alcohol treatment at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC). The 50-year-old victim checked himself in to the alcohol treatment facility at NUMC just hours before the accident but had wandered away from the hospital before being struck.
The victim reportedly sought alcohol treatment after drinking at least a pint of cognac and two beers. Records show that he was admitted to NUMC, but was somehow walking around on the Hempstead turnpike later that night with a blood alcohol content of .26 percent.
The convicted officer is a veteran of the town of Hempstead's public safety department who was called out on the night of the accident to investigate a disturbance at the town pool. Law enforcement officials at the scene reported that he was glassy-eyed after striking the victim, and that he smelled of alcohol when he was arrested. He was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .18 percent.
Charges were brought against the public safety officer for driving while intoxicated and for criminal vehicular homicide. A bench trial before Nassau County Judge Jerald Carter found that the defendant was indeed guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol, but that he was not guilty of criminal vehicular homicide. The somewhat contradictory verdict turns on the fact that the victim himself was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. The judge found that since the victim had substantially contributed to the accident himself, the defendant could not be held solely responsible for the victim's death.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Safety officer convicted of DWI in fatal NY crash," Associated Press, July 30, 2012.
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