A Nassau County police officer on New Year’s Eve DWI patrol suffered serious head injuries early Monday after an intoxicated motorist hit his unmarked patrol car head-on, authorities said.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said Officer Willard Gomes was in serious but stable condition at a hospital. Authorities declined to say where Gomes was hospitalized.
“He was on DWI patrol, enforcing DWI laws for New Year’s Eve,” Ryder said Monday during a news conference at Nassau police headquarters in Mineola.
Gomes, a 12-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department, suffered a head injury that caused swelling and bleeding on his brain, a broken vertebrae in his neck, broken left arm and broken left leg. The crash also caused a cracked rib with a lung contusion and left Gomes with broken teeth and other facial injuries, officials said.
“I would like to commend officer Gomes for his commitment to the department and for putting his life on the line during one of the [busiest] nights of the year for drinking and driving arrests,” Nassau PBA president James McDermott said in a statement. “Our prayers are with him and his family during this time of crisis and hope he will fully recover as quickly as possible.”
Gomes was driving north on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale at about 2:25 a.m. when a 2014 Dodge pickup truck driven by Keith Dillon, 29, of New Hyde Park, crossed the double line and hit the officer’s vehicle, police said. Police said they found a white powdery substance they believe is cocaine in Dillon’s truck.
The department’s Emergency Services crew spent approximately 45 minutes trying to extricate Gomes from the wreck, authorities said. An off-duty NYPD officer assisted with the rescue.
Dillon was hospitalized with an ankle injury. He will be charged with second-degree vehicular assault, second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Authorities said it was unclear when Dillon would be arraigned.
Dillon had been charged with DWI in 2015 in Southampton, Ryder said.
Nassau police said they made 36 DWI arrests this weekend, up from 21 last year. Suffolk police said they have made 15 DWI or driving while ability impaired arrests during their New Year’s Eve crackdown.