A Nassau County Highway Patrolman was struck and killed on the Long Island Expressway early Thursday morning.
Joseph P. Olivieri, 43, a Nassau police veteran since 1998 and Highway Patrol officer since 2005, was struck in the vicinity of North Hills at exit 35 in the eastbound lanes of the Long Island Expressway while investigating a motor vehicle accident in the HOV lane at about 4:58 a.m.
Related: Driver Charged in Death
According to homicide squad commanding officer Det. Lt. John Azzata, the first auto accident occurred 1,000 feet west of the New Hyde Park Road overpass and involved a BMW and Toyota Camry, with the BMW pulled over to the right-hand shoulder while the driver of the Toyota drove eastbound, making it to the left lane.
Near exit 35, the Toyota then collided with a second vehicle, a Honda Civic, which came to rest in the right-hand lane parallel to the exit ramp at exit 35. The Camry was also parallel to the exit ramp but perpendicular and crossing over the eastbound HOV lane.
“The front is almost resting on the concrete median of the Long Island Expressway,” Azzata said of the Camry during a press conference at police headquarters in Mineola Thursday morning.
Olivieri arrived at the scene, positioning his vehicle in the eastbound lane before putting on his lights and exiting his vehicle. The driver of the Civic had already exited his vehicle and Olivieri then proceeded to help the driver of the Camry.
At this time a Ford Explorer stopped in the middle of the third lane because of the accident.
A Cadillac Escalade travelling in the HOV lane then hit the Toyota Camry before striking Olivieri.
Officer Olivieri was able to radio for assistance and was transported to North Shore University Hospital.
“The investigation regarding these multiple accidents and the death of police officer Olivieri is continuing,” Azzata said, noting that the department is in contact with the Nassau County District Attorney’s office. “There are no charges at this point.”
The fatality shut down the eastbound portions of the LIE at 6:22 a.m., causing major delays to the Queens line. Eastbound traffic was being diverted to the service road and the Northern State Parkway was also experiencing heavy delays.
The involvement of drugs and/ or alcohol in the accidents is under investigation.
“We’re talking to all the drivers as we speak right now,” Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said.
Olivieri’s car was equipped with reflective vests officers use when conducting a traffic stop, but it was not known if Olivieri had been wearing one at the time of the incident.
The last officer killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop was Michael Califano, of Wantagh, when a flatbed truck collided with his police cruiser on Feb. 4, 2011, also on the LIE.