An NYPD detective on his way to work in Queens, New York, was killed in a wrong-way crash on a Westchester highway early Friday that backed up traffic for hours, and the 46-year-old officer's wife was tragically stuck in the jam as she tried to take the couple's teenage daughter to school, officials and relatives say.
The officer, Paul Duncan, was headed south on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Greenburgh in a Honda Pilot at about 4 a.m. when a 2013 Honda Civic headed the wrong way crashed into the detective's SUV head-on. Duncan was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Civic, 20-year-old Efren Moreano of Yonkers, was taken to Westchester Medical Center and is in a coma, police say. It's not clear why Moreano was driving the wrong way.
Aerial footage from Chopper 4, which was first on the scene, showed one mangled vehicle on the highway and another stopped off the roadway.
Duncan's wife, Rechelle, said her husband normally leaves for work at the department's Internal Affairs Bureau in Queens around 8 a.m., but got an unusually early start Friday.
When she went to drive her daughter to school in the city shortly before 7 a.m., she encountered a police car blocking access to the Sprain Brook Parkway by her home. It took her two hours to get to the city, and she had no idea the traffic was related to a response to an accident that had claimed her husband's life.
"I don't even know how that's possible," a composed yet stunned Rechelle Duncan told NBC 4 New York.
She and her husband were high school sweethearts who had been married for more than 20 years. Rechelle Duncan said her husband was planning to retire from the NYPD this year.
"He was thoughtful, he was disciplined. He made really good dinners," Rechelle Duncan said of her husband. "He thought he was funny, a sharp dresser, a really good dad."
Now, she says, she plans to focus on staying strong for her 13-year-old daughter.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor said after the crash that the state police and Department of Transportation should both look into ways to improve infrastructure on the highway.
-Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report