RONKONKOMA, NY (CBSNewYork) — Friends and family are mourning the death of an 18-year-old who was struck and killed by a Suffolk County sheriff’s vehicle on the Long Island Expressway.

The fatal crash happened just before 6 p.m. Wednesday in Ronkonkoma when authorities say 18-year-old William Schettino got out of his car after pulling over in the HOV lane.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall on the story

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office said the officer, identified as 37-year-old Richard Tedesco of East Moriches, was blinded by sun glare and struck Schettino after swerving to avoid the disabled vehicle.

Schettino was taken to the hospital where he later died. Tedesco suffered minor injuries.

Madeline Higgins, best friend of the victim, holds a photo of him - Mar 15, 2012 (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

Madeline Higgins, best friend of the victim, holds a photo of him - Mar 15, 2012 (credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

The westbound L.I.E. was closed between exits 59 and 60 for hours after the wreck. Lanes were reopened just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Schettino’s best friends couldn’t stop crying Thursday. Hugging each other, they remembered the 18-year-old.

“He made everyone laugh. He made a difference. He was our everything,” said best friend Madeline Higgins. She said Schettino was attending college and hoped to be a clothing designer one day.

Higgins also told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall that Schettino had gotten out of his car to call 911 because someone had hit his vehicle and drove off.

“We’re very young. We don’t know what to do in those situations. It’s hard. You get scared. You’re on the L.I.E. There are cars going by like crazy,” she said.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

“He was my neighbor, my cousin, my everything and now he’s gone because someone made an accident,” said his cousin Hampton Zagger.

Schettino’s friend Ashley Andrews, told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera that she believes Tedesco was speeding.

“He shouldn’t be going that fast as a sheriff in an accident zone,” Andrews said.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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