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.
District Attorney Melinda Katz said Beauvais fled from the crash and attempted to exit the Horace Harding Expressway, where her car jumped the curb and mounted the sidewalk. Police surrounded her and she tried to flee again by putting the car in reverse but rammed into the police vehicle behind her twice before coming to a final stop and being apprehended.
Shea reported that Tsakos, who had been struck head on, was knocked onto a nearby grassy area. He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens in critical condition, but was later pronounced deceased.
Beauvais, of Hempstead, LI, is being held pending arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on a 13-count complaint. The charges include two counts of vehicular manslaughter, drunk driving, colliding with an emergency vehicle and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Two hours after the crash, it was discovered that Beauvais’ blood alcohol content was 1.5 percent, the D.A.’s office said.
“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.
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.