Police probe officer-involved car crash death
Four students from Stony Brook University remained hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday after a collision involving their sport utility vehicle and a Suffolk County police car that left one of their fellow students dead.
Suffolk County police said they were still investigating the crash in which Vishwaja Muppa, 21, of Edison, N.J., was killed when the car she was riding in collided with a patrol car driven by Police Officer Rene Garcia.
"On behalf of Stony Brook University, I extend personal and heartfelt condolences to Vishwaja's family, her friends, her professors and all those who knew her," school president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a statement Wednesday.
The statement said counseling was available to students and school personnel.
Garcia, a 12-year veteran, was treated at Stony Brook University Hospital for a concussion and injuries to his wrist, lower back, elbow and knees. He was on sick leave Wednesday, according to Lt. Gail Morrero, commanding officer of the Seventh Precinct Detective Squad. That squad is investigating because Garcia is assigned to the Sixth Precinct.
The accident occurred about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday when the 2002 Toyota Highlander that Muppa was riding in was broadsided by Garcia's westbound patrol car at the intersection of Route 347 and Route 112 in Port Jefferson. Traffic lights and streetlights were out because of the storm, and the death was deemed storm-related.
The Highlander was broadsided by Garcia's car, police said. Garcia was on patrol and did not have his emergency lights on at the time, police said. He had just responded to a false alarm of a fire at Mount Sinai High School.
Police said it appeared that Muppa and other passengers in the rear of the Toyota were not wearing seat belts.