Charges are pending against a Hempstead woman accused of fatally running down “an extremely highly regarded member” of the NYPD Highway Patrol on the Long Island Expressway in Queens early Tuesday morning.
Police Officer Anastasios Tsakos, 43, of East Northport, a 14-year member of the department, was killed “in what can only be described as a senseless and completely avoidable chain of events,” according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
“We stand here this morning reminded once again, in law enforcement, there is no such thing as a routine job,” Shea remarked during an April 27 press conference at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, where Tsakos had died hours earlier. “We stand here devastated and trying to pick up the pieces of what is a shattered home and what is a shattered NYPD family.”
Tsakos was part of an NYPD response to a deadly, single-car accident on the LIE’s eastbound lanes, diverting traffic near Francis Lewis Boulevard in Fresh Meadows at about 1 a.m. on April 27.
At that moment, Shea said, the suspect — a 32-year-old Hempstead woman who was allegedly intoxicated while behind the wheel of a 2013 Volkswagen — veered to avoid traffic and struck the officer “head on.”
Tsakos suffered severe trauma and later died of his injuries at New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital. The commissioner noted that the officer, a distinguished member of the service who had earned the respect of his peers and superiors, leaves behind his wife, Irene, and two young children — a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
Cops stopped the driver responsible for Tsakos’ death a short time later, Shea said. Police learned during their investigation that her driver’s license had been suspended.
Police have not yet released the Volkswagen driver’s identity, pending the ongoing investigation. She faces charges up to and including vehicular manslaughter, the commissioner said.
Coincidentally, the fatal single-car crash to which Tsakos initially responded also involved a driver who had a suspended license, Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed out. According to Shea, NYPD officers had risked their own lives pulling three people from the burning wreck, though a rear passenger later died of their injuries.
“We see here a horrendous pattern of people doing the wrong thing and other people dead because of it,” de Blasio said, “and one of them a hero officer who did everything right in his life for us. And he is dead because of other people’s negligence.”
The mayor called Tsakos’ death “a very, very painful moment” for the city and the NYPD. Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Tsakos’ was regarded among his peers as “a cop’s cop and a good guy” — which, he said, were two of the highest compliments an officer can get.
“You heard them both in the emergency room,” Lynch said. “Yes, he was a good guy.”
This story first appeared on amNY.com.