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Police: Man charged in Wantagh parkway crash that injured state trooper

Investigators on the shoulder of the Wantagh State

Investigators on the shoulder of the Wantagh State Parkway Thursday after a driver rear-ended a State Police cruiser, authorities said.   Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Ronkonkoma man was arrested and charged with driving while impaired after he rear-ended a State Police cruiser Thursday morning on the Wantagh State Parkway, injuring the trooper inside, authorities said.

Gerald Breitfeller, 45, was driving a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer shortly before 11:30 a.m. on the parkway in Hempstead when he struck the trooper's marked cruiser parked on the southbound shoulder, police said in a statement.

Breitfeller faces charges of driving while impaired combined drugs and alcohol, first-degree driving while impaired by drugs, three counts of third-degree assault and two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, police said.

Officials identified the injured trooper as Joseph Potucek, a 12-year-veteran. 

Potucek, assigned to the Traffic Incident Management Unit, was seated in the cruiser “when it was struck from behind by a Chevrolet Blazer,” police said.

Potucek's specific injuries were not released by authorities. Police said they were not considered life threatening.

Breitfeller was not injured, police said.

He was being held Thursday night and is scheduled for arraignment Friday morning at Nassau County First District Court, police said.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing, officials said.

State police urge anyone with information to call 631-756-3300.

With Joan Gralla

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