New York

Driver Pleads Guilty in Wrong-Way Crash That Killed NYPD Detective

A 21-year-old man who drove the wrong way on a Westchester highway while drunk and high, hitting and killing an NYPD detective on his way to work, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges, prosecutors say.

Efren Moreano of Yonkers had a blood alcohol level of .16 percent and marijuana in his system when he drove his Honda Civic sedan onto the southbound side of the Sprain Brook Parkway at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2015, prosecutors said. 

He barreled down the highway at about 105 mph for about two miles, forcing drivers to swerve to avoid him, some off the road, authorities said. 

Mofreano then hit NYPD detective Paul Duncan's Honda Pilot head-on, killing him instantly. Duncan had been on his way to work at a police precinct in Queens, and was about two miles into his commute when he was struck, authorities said. 

The crash backed up traffic on the highway for hours. Duncan's wife was among the drivers stuck in the traffic as she tried to take their 13-year-old daughter to school in New York City.

She told NBC 4 New York at the time it took her two hours to get to the city that morning and didn't know the traffic was from the wreck that killed her husband of more than 20 years. 

Mofreano had to be extricated from his vehicle, and rescuers smelled alcohol and marijuana on him, prosecutors said. Toxicology tests later confirmed he was intoxicated and high. 

Mofreano pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of second-degree manslaughter, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors said. 

He faces a minimum of 1 to 3 years in prison to a maximum of 5 to 15 years when he's sentenced on June 1, prosecutors say. Mofreano remains behind bars.  

Duncan's widow, Rechelle Duncan, said the two were high school sweethearts married for more than 20 years. Paul had been planning to retire from the NYPD that 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."

Duncan has been described as an advocate for higher education. 

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