BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Terrified drivers honked and flashed their headlights as a car swerved down a highway in the wrong direction. But it took more dramatic action to stop an alleged drunk driver.
CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez talked with the man who managed to stop the off-duty officer, who was arrested for DUI.
Eric Minkoff, 32, said he never imagined he’d one day be responsible for saving the lives of countless drivers.
“It was thrilling and nerve wracking,” Minkoff said.
Early Sunday morning, the New Hyde Park graphic artist was a designated driver. He had just dropped off his friends and was driving on the Sagtikos Parkway in Suffolk County when he saw a woman driving a Chevy Cavalier on the wrong side of the road.
“All these cars were like pushing, moving off to the side of the road — honking their horns, flashing their lights — and she was also hitting the median,” Minkoff said.
Minkoff, who was in the southbound lane, said the median separated him from the female driver, who was driving southbound in the northbound lane.
Minkoff said he called the police pleading for help, not knowing the woman behind the wheel was an off-duty cop.
“My first thought is this woman’s going to kill somebody,” Minkoff said. “I didn’t know what to do at that time because I’m on the other side of the road. The only thing I could think of is just stick with her.”
Minkoff, staying in his lane, drove alongside the woman on the Sagtikos for eight miles as she traveled around 65 m.p.h. in the wrong direction.
The woman finally stopped at the opening of a median near Pineaire Drive. Minkoff pulled his Toyota Prius right in front her and blocked her from going anywhere else.
“She tried to go around me any way possible, and I kept going back and forth back and forth back and forth until the police finally came,” Minkoff said.
When police finally arrived, they soon found out they were arresting one of their own. State Police said 26-year-old Candice Smith, an officer with the NYPD, was drunk.
“I don’t think I’m a hero. I was just doing what needed to be done at the time,” Minkoff said.
Minkoff said he is still shaken up by the irony that he protected a woman who’s job is to protect and serve.
Smith has been suspended by the NYPD for 30 days.
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