Alleged drunk driver fatally strikes NYPD officer on Long Island Expressway in Queens

Screen Shot 2021-04-27 at 8.18.36 AM
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea addresses reporters at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital on April 27, 2021, with Mayor Bill de Blasio and various police officials looking on.
Screenshot from video courtesy of NYPD

Charges are pending against a Long Island woman accused of fatally running down “an extremely highly regarded member” of the NYPD Highway Patrol on the Long Island Expressway in Queens early Tuesday morning.

Police Officer Anastasios Tsakos, 43, a 14-year member of the department, was killed “in what can only be described as a senseless and completely avoidable chain of events,” according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

“We stand here this morning reminded once again, in law enforcement, there is no such thing as a routine job,” Shea remarked during an April 27 press conference at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, where Tsakos had died hours earlier. “We stand hear devastated and trying to pick up the pieces of what is a shattered home and what is a shattered NYPD family.”

Tsakos was part of an NYPD response to a deadly, single-car accident on the LIE’s eastbound lanes, diverting traffic at Francis Lewis Boulevard (Exit 26) in Fresh Meadows at about 1 a.m. on April 27.

Just before 2 a.m., Shea said, the suspect — Jessica Beauvais, 32, of Hempstead, who was allegedly intoxicated while behind the wheel of a 2013 Volkswagen — veered to avoid traffic and struck the officer “head on.”

Despite striking the officer, police said, Beauvais kept going, resulting in a brief police pursuit. Officers finally stopped her a short distance east of the crime scene, near the corner of Horace Harding Expressway and 221st Street, where she was taken into custody without further incident.

Police Officer Anastasios Tsakos served 14 years with the NYPD, mostly with its Highway Patrol Unit 3.Photo courtesy of NYPD

Tsakos suffered severe trauma and later died of his injuries at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital. The commissioner noted that the officer, a distinguished member of the service who had earned the respect of his peers and superiors, leaves behind his wife, Irene, and two young children — a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.

During the preliminary investigation, Shea said, police learned that Beauvais allegedly drove the Volkswagen with a suspended license.

She was charged Tuesday with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, along with additional counts of reckless endangerment, fleeing from an officer in a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a deadly accident, aggravated unlicensed operator, DWI, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, DWAI, and reckless driving. 

Beauvais was also hit with several traffic infractions including a motor vehicle license violation, a right of way violation and colliding with an emergency vehicle.

Responding to tragedy

Coincidentally, the fatal single-car crash to which Tsakos initially responded also involved a driver who had a suspended license, Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed out.

“We see here a horrendous pattern of people doing the wrong thing and other people dead because of it,” de Blasio said, “and one of them a hero officer who did everything right in his life for us. And he is dead because of other people’s negligence.”

That crash, police said, occurred at about 12:28 a.m. at the entrance ramp to the Clearview Expressway (Exit 27) from the LIE. It’s believed the driver was moving at a high rate of speed when the vehicle suddenly veered and hit a median before smashing into a light post. 

Upon arriving at the scene, officers from the 107th Precinct and the Highway Patrol observed a late-model sedan on fire, with three occupants trapped inside. Shea said arriving officers risked their lives to smash open the vehicles windows and pull the victims out.

EMS units brought all three victims to Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The 24-year-old male driver and his 19-year-old front passenger were listed in stable condition, but an unidentified man riding in the backseat later died of his injuries.

The mayor called Tsakos’ death “a very, very painful moment” for the city and the NYPD. Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Tsakos’ was regarded among his peers as “a cop’s cop and a good guy” — which, he said, were two of the highest compliments an officer can get.

“You heard them both in the emergency room,” Lynch said. “Yes, he was a good guy.”