A Long Beach police officer was seriously injured early Monday when his marked patrol unit was struck by a car that ran a red light, officials said.
Officer Lucas Dikranis suffered smashed kneecaps and a leg bone that pierced his skin, but he was able to escape his damaged Chevrolet Tahoe by himself, using his pocketknife and a lot of effort, police spokesman Lt. Mark Stark said.
With side and front air bags deployed, Dikranis cut away the bag material, then rammed his shoulder against the jammed, dented door, forcing it open, Stark said. "He was working on 1,000 percent adrenaline," Stark said.
Dikranis, a former NYPD officer now in his 20s, was undergoing surgery at Nassau University Medical Center Monday afternoon, Stark said.
The accident occurred at 12:30 a.m. at Broadway, a main thoroughfare with a median separating westbound lanes from the eastbound traffic and separate traffic signals in the center section, Long Beach police said.
Police said the officer was headed west on Broadway, while the other vehicle, a Mercedes sedan with four occupants, was going east.
The Mercedes made a left onto northbound Edwards Boulevard and ran the red light at the intersection with westbound Broadway traffic, hitting the patrol car, Stark said.
Dikranis was responding to a disturbance on the beach, but it was not an emergency and he had the green light so the officer did not turn his police lights and siren on, the spokesman said.
The Mercedes' occupants, who were coming from an event at the Allegria Hotel, were not seriously injured, police said.
To avoid a conflict of interest, Nassau police were called to the scene to gather evidence, Long Beach police said. Nassau officers conducted a sobriety test on the Mercedes driver, who was found not to be impaired, Stark said. The driver was issued a summons for running a red light and released, he said.
Stark, who was at the scene, said he spoke with the Mercedes' driver, who kept saying "He could have killed me" and complained that the officer did not have his emergency lights and sirens on.
"There was no remorse," the lieutenant said.Police did not identify the driver.
Dikranis was in stable condition and expected to recover, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Stark said brake tests will be done on both vehicles. With John Valenti