A Nassau County police officer was fatally struck by an SUV while helping a driver involved in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway early Thursday morning.
Highway Patrol Officer Joseph Olivieri was pulling a crash victim from a car in the eastbound HOV lane near exit 35 in North Hills when he was hit by a Cadillac Escalade at 4:45 a.m., police said.
“We’re still in the process of putting it all together,” Nassau Police Commissioner Tom Dale told reporters during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.
It is too soon to say if there was any drugs or alcohol involved or what charges, if any, may be filed, Dale said. Investigators are still interviewing the drivers involved.
The Toyota Camry driver that Olivieri helped had fled the scene of crash with a BMW near the New Hyde Park Road overpass before colliding with a Honda Civic shortly later, Homicide Squad Det. Lt. John Azzata said.
Olivieri responded to the scene of the second crash, turned on his flashing lights, parked his patrol car in the right lane and got out when a Ford Explorer stopped in the left lane, Azzata said.
That’s when the Cadillac driver came upon the scene and unsuccessfully tried to avoid colliding with the stopped vehicles, Azzata said. Olivieri radioed for help after being hit by the truck.
The 43-year-old officer, a 19-year police veteran, was taken to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where he died.
Dale said Olivieri served five years with the NYPD and 13 with Nassau police. He had been a highway patrolman since 2005.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said Olivieri was a cheerful guy who was loved by his colleagues. County Executive Ed Mangano ordered flags at half staff for the next 30 days.
Olivieri is survived by his 19-year-old son Daniel, 21-year-old daughter Amanda, two brothers, mother and father.
“This is a tragic day,” Mangano said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”