An off-duty Suffolk County police officer was driving the wrong way on Sunrise Highway early Tuesday morning when he allegedly hit and killed another driver, authorities say.
The officer, Robert Scheuerer, was driving his 2000 Nissan Pathfinder in the wrong direction on the westbound side of the the highway when he crashed into a Ford van between exits 39 and 40 in West Islip shortly before 5 a.m., Suffolk County police say.
The van caught fire, and the driver, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Scheuerer was being treated at a hospital for serious injuries. Suffolk police say he was been suspended without pay, and is being charged with felony first-degree reckless endangerment.
He's expected to be arraigned at a later date, police said.
The mangled, fire-damaged vehicles remained in the westbound lanes of the Sunrise Highway for some eight hours after the crash. Investigators spent hours examining the scene before the vehicles were removed.
Annemarie and Chris Garone, who live about a mile away, said it's a scene that's become familiar.
"Stay off Sunrise Highway, because it's always something that happens on this roadway," said Chris Garone.
"It's scary because we're up and down these roads all the time," said Annemarie Garone.