Suffolk cop pauses traffic stop, buys a new car seat for driver's son
When Suffolk County Police Officer Pete Zotos pulled over a driver in Selden recently, looked in the back and saw a little boy spilling out of his car seat, something didn't seem quite right.
Zotos, a four-year traffic officer with the Sixth Precinct, had spotted the SUV’s red inspection sticker and other vehicle violations and made the traffic stop June 25.
The boy, 2, was in an infant car seat, which he had grown out of.
"I have two boys myself and thought the most important thing is this little boy is safe," Zotos said. "I knew I had to do something."
The driver, Mario Romero of Valley Stream, told Zotos money was tight and he couldn’t afford a new car seat for his son. Zotos said he asked the father if it would be OK if he bought him a new one.
Romero followed the officer to a Walmart in Centereach, where Zotos bought him a brand-new car seat that would last the boy the rest of his childhood.
"His eyes lit up and he looked like he was starting to well up," Zotos said of the father. "I know money is tight and COVID hit everyone hard and we have to prioritize where money goes. Some people may slack on other things to make ends meet.
"I wanted to give the father peace of mind and a safe car seat. It was the best feeling I’ve had. It was nice to do something for a complete stranger," Zotos said.
Romero was cited with multiple vehicle infractions, including driving without insurance and suspended registration. But he thanked Zotos profusely, the officer said, as he saw his boy beaming in his new car seat.
"I’m very grateful," Romero said in an interview with Newsday translated by a Spanish-speaking officer. "I never expected to get that, especially after getting pulled over. I’m very happy and at least I know my son is safe."