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Injured Nassau cop to be honored for heroism

The scene of a crash that seriously injured

The scene of a crash that seriously injured Nassau police Officer Willard Gomes in Greenvale on Jan. 1. Credit: Paul Mazza

Nassau County Police Officer Willard Gomes, who was seriously injured when an alleged drunken driver struck his unmarked patrol car during a New Year’s Eve weekend DWI patrol, will be recognized for his “heroic actions” Monday, officials said.

Richard J. Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, and James McDermott, president of the Police Benevolent Association, will name Gomes, a 12-year veteran of the force, as this month’s “Top Cop” at noon at the county legislature, officials said.

Gomes will be presented with a formal proclamation from the county in a ceremony that’s expected to be attended by Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

Gomes suffered life-threatening injuries, including bleeding on his brain, a fractured C5 vertebrae, broken left orbital, a broken left arm and the loss of multiple teeth after the Jan. 1 crash, after which emergency responders worked for 30 minutes to free Gomes from his vehicle.

“Fortunately, Officer Gomes was able to overcome the injuries and currently continues the long road to recovery,” according to a statement from the PBA Sunday night. “The incident is a reminder of the constant risks that officers face every day while carrying out their routine duties.”

Keith Dillon, 29, a boat mechanic and U.S. Coast Guard veteran from New Hyde Park, pleaded not guilty at his January arraignment to charges of second-degree vehicular assault, second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the crash.

Dillon was driving his 2014 Dodge truck at an “extremely high rate of speed” south on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale about 2:25 a.m. Monday when it crossed the double line, according to court papers. Dillon’s truck “mounted the center median” and struck Gomes’ patrol car head-on, dragging it backward about 50 feet and causing it to strike a Mercedes-Benz SUV, prosecutors said. The occupants of the Mercedes were not hurt.

Dillon, who told police he drank the wine and whiskey during a party at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville and also had beer and shots at three other establishments, registered a .17 percent partial reading — more than twice the state’s legal limit of .08 for alcohol consumption for drivers — on a preliminary breath test administered at the scene, senior Nassau Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma said during the arraignment.

Dillon also told police he had taken medical marijuana and Xanax before the crash, prosecutors said. Inside Dillon’s pickup truck, prosecutors said, investigators found Xanax and two bags containing what authorities believe is cocaine residue.

According to court papers, the substance that appears to be cocaine was in two glassine envelopes inside a pack of cigarettes in the map pocket of the driver’s side door of Dillon’s truck.

That weekend, Nassau police made 36 DWI arrests, officials said.

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