A Suffolk County police officer who suffered life-threatening brain injuries in a crash caused by an alleged drunken driver is alert, communicative and out of critical condition, the physician supervising his care said Monday.
Officer Timothy Thrane, 35, no longer requires life support or a ventilator, according to Dr. James Vosswinkel, the chief of trauma surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital. Thrane, hospitalized at Stony Brook since the Nov. 3 Yaphank crash, is out of critical condition, Vosswinkel said.
"Tim is a very strong gentleman and we are encouraged by the progress he is making," said Vosswinkel, who is also the medical director of the Suffolk County Police Department. "We remain optimistic he will recover."
Suffolk acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said he is hopeful the Seventh Precinct officer will be released from Stony Brook as early as this week.
"I just visited him in the hospital and he is making steady improvements," Cameron said Monday.
Thane, who joined the department three years ago, was struck in the early morning hours of Nov. 3 as he directed traffic in Yaphank. A marked Suffolk 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.
William Petersohn, 38, of Mastic, was responsible for the crash that led to Thrane’s injuries, according to Suffolk police and prosecutors. Petersohn, driving a 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck and heading south on William Floyd Parkway, rear-ended a GMC Yukon which then hit Thrane, according to police said. The driver of the GMC Yukon was not hurt, police said.
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.
He had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and glassy, bloodshot eyes after the crash, court papers said. Petersohn is set to return to Suffolk criminal court in Central Islip on Dec. 22.
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.