A highway officer was responding to a fiery car crash in the early hours of April 27 when he was struck and killed by an allegedly drunk driver.
Anastasios Tsakos, a 14-year NYPD veteran and father of two young children, was investigating the scene of an earlier, fatal collision at the time of the 2 a.m. incident.
“The absolutely tragic events of this past evening highlight, again, the many, many dangers our brave officers face every day and night — in all aspects of their critical work,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a press conference Tuesday morning, adding that the incident “amounted to a completely avoidable chain of events.”
According to police, Tsakos was one of many officers responding to a vehicle collision on the Long Island Expressway at the Clearview Expressway just 30 minutes past midnight. One of the vehicles was in flames.
Tsakos was diverting traffic from the scene, when 32-year-old Jessica Beauvais — who had a suspended license — came speeding along, police said. She swerved to avoid other cars and collided with Tsakos, who was standing next to his marked vehicle. She fled from the crash and made it all the way to Long Island City before she was halted — officers pursued her and conducted a car stop at Horace Harding Expressway and 21st Street.
Shea reported that Tsakos, who had been struck head on, was knocked down the roadway. He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens in critical condition, but was later pronounced deceased.
Beauvais, of Hempstead, LI, was arrested on a slew of charges, including two counts of vehicular manslaughter, drunk driving, colliding with an emergency vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
“We stand here this morning reminded once again, in law enforcement, there is no such thing as a routine job,” Shea said. “We stand here devastated and trying to pick up the pieces of what is a shattered home and a shattered NYPD family.”
Shea said Tsakos was a highly regarded cop assigned to Highway Unit 3, located just off the Grand Central Parkway in Cunningham Park. Tsakos, 43, leaves behind his wife, Irene, a 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
“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 de Blasio said from the emergency room.
Tsakos was not the only fatality of the evening — one of the three passengers who had been inside the car that burned was pronounced dead at North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital. The operator and a second passenger remain in serious, but stable condition.
According to police, the operator had been driving too quickly to properly navigate the northbound entrance ramp onto the Clearview Expressway from the LIE. The car struck a median before hitting a light post.