The New York state trooper struck by a vehicle as he helped a motorist broken down on an entrance ramp to the Sagtikos Parkway was in the “fight of his life” Tuesday at a Bay Shore hospital, a State Police union official said.
Trooper Joseph J. Gallagher underwent surgery Monday night at Southside Hospital, officials said. Afterward, officials said he was in serious condition. His condition had not changed Tuesday, officials said.
“We’re all hoping and praying,” said Thomas H. Mungeer, president of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “He’s in the fight of his life. He’s got the best medical care available.”
Gallagher, 35, suffered an “extreme, traumatic head injury” Monday afternoon when a vehicle struck him along a sharp turn on an overpass ramp to the southbound Sagtikos in the Commack area, police said.
Mungeer said he knows Gallagher, a native of the Buffalo suburb West Seneca, from when Gallagher was stationed upstate. The trooper has worked out of Long Island since January, after previous assignments with Troop F in upstate Middletown and Troop T, which patrols the New York State Thruway.
Mungeer called Gallagher “a reliable, dependable trooper” who does “what the men and women in the great uniform do every day across New York State.”
Gallagher served in the U.S. Coast Guard before becoming a state trooper in 2014. He is married and has young children.
Mungeer thanked Suffolk County police medics, whom the State Police superintendent credited Monday with giving emergency treatment to Gallagher and getting him to the hospital quickly.
“We’re eternally grateful for that,” said Mungeer. “They saved his life.”
The vehicle hit Gallagher at 2:32 p.m. after he responded to a dispatch call for a disabled vehicle in the left lane of the two-lane entrance ramp from the westbound Long Island Expressway, said Maj. David Candelaria, the commander of Troop L in Farmingdale, speaking at a hospital news conference early Monday night.
The ramp has a “sharp, hairpin turn” that is “very, very dangerous,” he said.
Gallagher parked behind two disabled vehicles with his lights flashing, Candelaria said. He began setting up flares, Candelaria said, when two oncoming vehicles veered to the right to avoid Gallagher. The driver of a third vehicle “did not see the trooper” and struck him, Candelaria said.
“Preliminarily, it doesn’t look like it’s criminal,” Candelaria said, adding that in that area, the driver would have had “very limited” sight distance.
Gallagher’s family couldn’t be reached for comment. A woman who answered the door at the trooper’s East Northport home Monday night said family members were with him at the hospital. She declined to give her name.
The driver of the vehicle that hit Gallagher did not appear intoxicated and was “100 percent cooperating,” Candelaria said. No charges have been filed, he said, adding that the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, including its Collision Reconstruction Unit, is probing the crash.
Investigators urge witnesses to call police at 631-756-3300.
On Monday, State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II credited the Suffolk County police officer medics from the department’s Medical Crisis Action Team with saving Gallagher’s life.
“We were extremely fortunate that there were two paramedics from the Suffolk County Police Department — MCAT paramedics — who rolled up on the scene, literally within a minute, and were able to render immediate aid,” Beach said, “and we believe saved our trooper’s life in order to get him here so that he could be in surgery.”
Asked Tuesday during an unrelated interview about the police paramedics’ role in aiding the trooper, Suffolk District Attorney-elect Timothy Sini, the current police commissioner, said: “We’re particularly proud of those officers, and our thoughts and prayers are with the trooper and his family.”
With Khristopher J. Brooks, Zachary R. Dowdy and Lisa Irizarry