Salvatore Distefano
Salvatore Distefano

A Suffolk County police officer helping investigate a fatal car crash was injured when an alleged drunken driver rear-ended his patrol car in Patchogue on Sunday evening, authorities said.

The highway patrolman was at the scene of a crash that killed a 22-year-old driver on Sunrise Highway earlier the same day when Salvatore Distefano crashed his Chrysler into the cop car at 7:12 p.m., police said.

Police Officer Brian Smales had parked his car, with emergency lights activated, on the right shoulder of the express portion of the road in an attempt to make the scene safe for the search, police said.

Smales was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was treated for head, neck, back and leg injuries.

Distefano was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue where he was treated for facial lacerations.

The 29-year-old Central Islip man was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, assault and violating New York State’s “Move Over Law” that requires drivers slow down and change lanes to safely pass an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road.

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He will be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Central Islip.

Smales was at the scene of the crash that claimed the life of Colin Garrett of Patchogue and injured two of his passengers at 1:32 a.m. Sunday, police said.

Vehicular Crimes Unit detectives ask anyone with information regarding this crash involving Distefano to call them at 631-852-6295.


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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.