Two Nassau County police officers responding to a house fire that killed its sole occupant were among four people injured in a chain-reaction crash in Massapequa Thursday morning, police said.
The officers sustained only minor injuries, police said. The woman involved in the collision with police and a pedestrian who was knocked into a parked car were both listed in serious condition.
The dramatic crash came as the pair of officers were racing to a raging fire on North Suffolk Avenue just after 9 a.m., said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, the department’s chief spokesman, at the scene of the crash.
According to LeBrun, the officers were crossing the intersection at New York Avenue and Broadway when their vehicle was struck by a 2002 Toyota Camry. Then the Camry jumped the curb and slammed into a pedestrian, who was launched into a parked Nissan Rogue.
The mangled Camry only came to a stop after it had barreled into a corner hair salon that was unoccupied at the time of the crash. The salon, which had a “Grand Opening” sign dangling from its facade, suffered extensive damage.
The 63-year-old female driver of the Camry was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, LeBrun said. The pedestrian was said to be in very serious condition at a local hospital.
The officers were undergoing a medical evaluation, LeBrun explained.
“There’s never any routine police call—every call is serious,” LeBrun said. “We always try to use good judgment; they did have the right of way, they’re responding to a 911 emergency call. Unfortunately the woman did have the stop sign and did proceed through that intersection.”
LeBrun said the department’s main focus was the health of those who were injured.
“At this point we just want to make sure everybody is safe,” he said.
Police did not immediately identify the 79-year-old victim of the morning blaze. The man, who was alone in the house, was pronounced dead at the scene, LeBrun said.
LeBrun said the officers “did their best to try to enter the home” but were unable to because of the extreme heat emanating from the house.
LeBrun did not say what had sparked the fire.
Portions of Broadway and the street where the blaze occurred remained taped off through the afternoon.
The collision was the first major incident involving Nassau police since the department temporarily ordered officers to patrol in pairs earlier this week. The department triggered its heightened-alert protocol following Sunday’s ambush slaying of three cops in Baton Rouge.
“Until further notice we have two police officers in each car,” LeBrun said. “We assess daily with regard to any changes that we’re going to make.”