An award-winning Latin teacher who was walking to North Shore Middle School Friday morning was hurt -- and a couple was seriously injured -- when a motorist who police said was driving recklessly struck him and collided with their car, Nassau police said.
Cruz Correa, 28, of 21-31 Brewster St. in Glen Cove, was arrested and charged with reckless driving, police said. He will be arraigned at a later date once he recovers from injuries, police said.
They said the investigation was continuing.
A law enforcement source said officials believe Correa was driving drunk or high on drugs. They were also investigating whether he had run a red light, adding that the teacher had the right of way and was in the crosswalk when he was struck.
Christopher Whalley, who has taught Latin for at least 15 years at the middle and high schools and who was honored in 2007 by the Harvard Club of Long Island, was among four people hurt in the 10 a.m. crash on Glen Cove Avenue outside entrances to both schools in Glen Head, police said. He was listed in stable condition at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
Whalley's father, Roger Whalley of Amherst, said his son's injuries are not life-threatening.
"He's in the recovery room. He's been in surgery. His injuries are just with one ankle," Roger Whalley said Friday night.
Witnesses said Correa was swerving across lanes before the crash, according to a source.
Al Jaffar, 32, of Glen Cove, was working at the auto mechanic shop on Glen Cove Avenue when he saw a man struck by a car while crossing the street. "He was laying in the street," Jaffar said. "He looked really bad."
Police were also withholding the names of the couple but they did say that the man, who was driving, is 66 years old. The woman in the car is 65 years old.
Police said the accident occurred as Correa drove a 1991 Lexus erratically and hit Whalley as he traveled north on Glen Cove Avenue before crossing the centerline and striking the couple's 2007 Volkswagen Passat head on. At least one of the people lapsed into cardiac arrest, the source said.
"He struck the male pedestrian crossing the street, veered into the southbound lane and then hit the Volkswagen with the husband and wife," said Det. Michael Bitsko, a police spokesman. "There were serious injuries to all involved."
Information about the couple's and Correa's injuries was not available last night, but police said he was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center.
North Shore schools officials sent out an alert for parents and students that one of their own was hurt in an accident.
"Unfortunately, one of our teachers was walking over to the middle school at the time of the accident and was hit by a car," the statement read. "While injured, he is in stable condition."
"He's the smartest, most fun, best teacher I've ever had," said Chrissy D'Angelo, 17, a student at North Shore High School who took a course with Whalley. "He taught us so much. He's nice and smart and such an amazing teacher. He's the best teacher."
Whalley had also taught for 10 years in Japan, Michigan and Queens, according to an online profile. The site says he has a bachelor's in Latin language and literature as well as a master's degree in classical philology.
Bruce Kennedy, mayor of Sea Cliff, the community north of the high school and middle school, said the area becomes extremely congested when school is beginning and ending each day. "It is imperative that the county look into ways of initiating traffic calming measures," he said.
With Joie Tyrrell