The Suffolk County police officer who suffered life-threatening brain injuries in a crash authorities said was caused by a drunken driver is in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital after suffering respiratory problems last week, the physician supervising his care said Monday.
Officer Timothy Thrane last week suffered "a significant pulmonary compromise" due to the severity of trauma his body suffered during the Nov. 3 crash, according to Dr. James Vosswinkel, the medical director of the Suffolk County Police Department and the chief of trauma surgery at Stony Brook.
"Tim is critically ill and remains on a ventilator and on life support," Vosswinkel said.
But Vosswinkel and acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said they remain optimistic that Thrane, 35, will make a full recovery but that his body needs time to heal.
"I’m still hopeful he will return to work," Cameron said Monday.
Suffolk police and prosecutors said William Petersohn, 38, of Mastic, was responsible for the crash that led to Thrane’s injuries. Petersohn, who was also injured in the crash, pleaded not guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated via video from his room at Stony Brook University Hospital on Nov. 4.
Petersohn had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and glassy, bloodshot eyes after the crash, court papers said. He is expected to return to Suffolk criminal court in Central Islip on Nov. 24.
Petersohn’s Suffolk County Legal Aid attorney, Jacquelin Flores, did not return a request for comment.
Thrane is a Seventh Precinct officer who joined the department three years ago, police said. He is married and the father three young children.
Police said Thrane was directing traffic after an accident in Yaphank when he was injured.
"There is nothing routine about this job," Cameron said. "It is a very dangerous job."
A marked Suffolk County patrol car was parked in the road blocking traffic due to an earlier investigation at the intersection of William Floyd Parkway and Yaphank Woods Boulevard, police said.
Thrane was injured when Petersohn, driving a 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck and heading south on William Floyd Parkway, rear-ended a GMC Yukon which then hit Thrane, police said. The driver of the GMC Yukon was not hurt, police said.
Thrane is the second Suffolk police officer to be severely injured this year. Officer Christopher Racioppo nearly bled to death in April after he was stabbed during a struggle with a drunken driving suspect in Patchogue. Racioppo spent 16 days in Stony Brook University Hospital this spring before making a full recovery and returning to work.
A Suffolk Police Benevolent Association-endorsed fundraiser for Thrane’s family had raised more than $133,000 by Monday.
"The support we get from the people of Suffolk County is phenomenal," Cameron said.