The Suffolk County corrections sergeant from Riverhead arrested last month after he allegedly struck and killed a 32-year-old father of three while driving drunk on Flanders Road told police the victim “came out of nowhere,” according to court records.
Christopher Dean, 41, of Riverhead was driving his girlfriend’s 2002 Mercedes-Benz vehicle westbound on Flanders Road about 12:30 a.m. when he hit Efren Ramirez of Flanders, who was walking on the westbound side of the roadway.
Southampton Town police officers who responded to the scene found Mr. Ramirez lying dead in the road near the intersection of Old Quogue Road, officials said.
The officers reported that Mr. Dean’s eyes were “bloodshot and glassy” and his breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, according to a criminal complaint filed in Southampton Town Justice Court.
Police also reported that Mr. Dean, a 15-year veteran with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and a sergeant at the Riverside jail, was “unsteady afoot” and “performed poorly on field sobriety tests.”
Mr. Dean’s girlfriend told police the couple was driving back from dinner and talking about adopting a pet bunny just before the accident, according to the complaint.
“All of a sudden, a man appeared in front of the car,” she wrote in a statement to police. “He hit our windshield. We screamed. Chris stopped. He got out and went to check the guy.”
The girlfriend said she had a few drinks at dinner, but added she didn’t think Mr. Dean was drunk.
“I did not see Chris drink anything,” she wrote.
Mr. Dean was arrested at the scene and charged with misdemeanor DWI, but could face additional charges following an investigation, said Suffolk County district attorney spokesman Bob Clifford.
Mr. Dean was suspended without pay for 30 days, according to Suffolk County undersheriff John Meyerricks.
That’s the maximum amount of time an employee can be suspended without a hearing, he said.
Mr. Dean is free on $10,000 bail and due back in court on July 25, Southampton Town court officials said.
The victim, Mr. Ramirez, worked at the McDonald’s restaurant on Route 58 and lived in Flanders with his wife and 3-year-old son, said Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, a Catholic outreach group that helped console and assist the family.
He also reportedly worked a second job at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
The couple has two other children, ages 8 and 11, who are living back in Guatemala and were “devastated” after learning the news about their dad, Sister Margaret said.
Mr. Ramirez’s body was taken back to Guatemala for burial in his native land, in accordance with his family’s wishes.