The off-duty Suffolk police officer killed in a highway crash in June was drunk and driving at "an excessive speed" when he hit a guardrail on the Long Island Expressway, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
At the time of his death, Officer Robert Bowen's blood-alcohol content was 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, the source said, citing the results of a recently completed medical examiner's toxicology report. Speed well above the posted limit was also found to be a contributing factor.
Bowen, 34, of Ronkonkoma, a Third Precinct patrol officer, was off duty when he drove east on the Long Island Expressway at about 4 a.m. on June 21. As he approached Exit 58, he clipped a sport utility vehicle from behind and lost control of his BMW, then swerved into an exit lane guardrail and flipped over. He was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene.
His brother, Michael Bowen, 32, of Port Jefferson Village, said he last spoke with Bowen just before the crash, when he called from his car.
"I spoke to him at 4:09 in the morning. He was coming to pick me up to take me to work and he sounded 100 percent coherent. He didn't say where he'd been," he said. "Honestly, I don't know where he was because I didn't have a chance to have that conversation with him."
Chief Michael Sharkey of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department confirmed the toxicology results. A final crash reconstruction by New York State Police will include an estimate of Bowen's speed. The report is not complete; spokesman Frank Bandiero said the agency has 90 days to finish it.
The day before the crash, Bowen worked the 3-to-11 p.m. shift at the Third Precinct in Bay Shore. Deputy Insp. William Neubauer of the Third Precinct said he didn't know where Bowen was after finishing his shift. "His time was up at 11 o'clock the day before he died. After that, it's a question mark," he said.
Suffolk police Commissioner Richard Dormer and spokesman Timothy Motz declined to comment. Dan Aug, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, said the executive's office had not received any information from State Police. He declined to comment further.
Michael Bowen said he hoped the news would not hurt his brother's reputation.
"He was a great man and a great father . . . and a great son to my parents, regardless of whether he went out and had a few beers," Bowen said. "He drinks. He goes out. A lot of people do."
He added that his brother was under stress related to his work, family obligations and time in the military.
Robert Bowen, a seven-year veteran of the department, served at least four years in the Marine Corps before becoming a reservist. He was deployed to Kuwait in 2003 and Iraq in 2007, where he was an elite sniper. He and his wife, Vanessa, had a daughter, Emily, 2.
The driver of the Ford Explorer that Bowen hit told deputies that he was in the center lane and going the speed limit when the BMW swerved around him, clipping his rear bumper. The driver was not hurt.