A police officer was rear-ended by a drunk driver Thursday night on Long Island, and the patrol car that was hit was a replacement for a cruiser that was hit by a drunk driver years ago, killing the officer inside.
Suffolk County police say in the latest incident, Russell Schaefer, 28, of Mount Sinai, hit the officer's car on Jericho Turnpike west of Commack Road in Commack just before 10 p.m.
Schaefer and the officer were both treated and released with minor injuries. Schaefer is being charged with DWI. It was not immediately known whether he had a lawyer. Police did release the officer's name.
Suffolk police say the damaged car had replaced one driven by Officer Glen Ciano, who was killed in February 2009 when a drunk driver smashed into his car.
Ciano was coming to the aid of his partner when he was broadsided by a drunk driver on Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and Commack Road. The cruiser then hit a tree and exploded, killing the 45-year-old officer.
Thursday's accident happened less than two miles away on Jericho Turnpike, just west of Commack Road.
A combination of education and stricter enforcement would do much to reduce drunk driving, said Mary Scala, a victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"The judges have to sentence stiffer penalties," said Scala. "Probation and fines and community service are not stopping drunk drivers. If there's a harsher penalty like jail time perhaps that would be a deterrent."