Probation for corrections sergeant in fatal DWI

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Efren Ramirez was struck and killed near this section of Flanders Road by a drunk driver last year.

A Suffolk County corrections sergeant who struck and killed a Flanders man while driving drunk last year will not face jail time after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated in Suffolk County court.

Christopher Dean, 41, of Riverhead pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor DWI charge. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and had his driver’s license revoked for six months, according to online court records.

Mr. Dean will also be required to have an interlock device installed in his car as part of his sentence and will undergo alcohol and drug counseling, officials said.

Mr. Dean, a 15-year veteran with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and a sergeant at the Riverside jail, was driving his girlfriend’s 2002 Mercedes-Benz west on Flanders Road about 12:30 a.m. on June 26 when he hit Efren Ramirez of Flanders, who was walking on the westbound side of the roadway.

Southampton Town police who responded to the scene found Mr. Ramirez lying dead in the road near the Old Quogue Road intersection, police said at the time. 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 against Mr. Dean.

Police also said that Mr. Dean was “unsteady afoot” and “performed poorly on field sobriety tests.”

But an accident investigation revealed that the victim had been highly intoxicated at the time of the crash and was walking in the roadway when Mr. Dean struck him, said Suffolk County District Attorney spokesman Bob Clifford.    A police investigation also found that Mr. Dean had been traveling “at or below the speed limit” when the crash occurred and was not driving erratically.

“Although the driver, Dean, was intoxicated there was no evidence that he was driving his vehicle in a manner that would allow an upgrade in the charges,” Mr. Clifford said. “You’d have to establish recklessness [to file more serious charges].”

The victim worked at a local McDonald’s restaurant and is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son, as well as the couple’s two other young children, who are living back in Guatemala.

Mr. Dean was suspended without pay for 100 days after his arrest, said Suffolk County undersheriff John Meyerricks.

“My initial response was to seek termination if felony charges were filed,” Mr. Meyerricks said, calling the crash a “tragic, tragic event.” When the charges were not upgraded to felonies, Mr. Dean’s suspension was upheld and he was reinstated as a corrections officer after the suspension was served.

Mr. Dean will also undergo drug and alcohol testing through the sheriff’s department as part of his disciplinary proceedings, Mr. Meyerricks said.

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