A Suffolk County police officer was arrested Tuesday after he drove the wrong way on Sunrise Highway in West Islip and crashed into another vehicle, killing the driver, police said.
Robert Scheuerer, 24, an officer in the Third Precinct who was off-duty at the time of the crash, was charged with felony first-degree reckless endangerment, police said. He remained hospitalized Tuesday night with serious injuries and had not yet been arraigned, police said.
Scheuerer, who has been on the force for a year, was suspended without pay, police said. He is the son of Suffolk Police Sgt. Peter Scheuerer, a 27-year veteran of the force, according to a source.
Robert Scheuerer was driving a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder early Tuesday morning between exits 40 and 39 going eastbound in the westbound lanes when he struck a 2016 Ford van at 4:38 a.m. between the Higbie Lane and Route 231 overpasses, police said. The van caught fire, police said.
The van driver, whose identity would not be released until his family was notified, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association, said Tuesday night: “It would be inappropriate for me to give a statement at this time, absent all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, but my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved.”
Scheuerer’s family could not be reached for comment. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.
Police said in a statement that the investigation is continuing and “additional charges may be forthcoming.”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said in an interview that while many of the circumstances of the crash, which he called “tragic,” are still under investigation, police received multiple 911 calls reporting a white vehicle driving the wrong way.
Sini said police obtained a blood sample from the officer, which is being tested to determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.
“We’ll go wherever the evidence leads us and I’m confident in the investigators assigned to the case,” Sini said. “And obviously we want to be very transparent about what’s going on. It’s tragic for everyone, particularly the person who lost their life, but it’s also tragic for the officer’s family and the officer.”