Off-Duty NYPD Detective Killed In Wrong-Way Crash On Sprain Brook Parkway

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An off-duty NYPD detective was killed Friday morning in a wrong-way crash on the Sprain Brook Parkway, New York State police said.

It happened around 4 a.m. near the Heatherdell Road overpass in Greenburgh.

Police said a Honda Civic was traveling north in the southbound lanes of the parkway when it hit a Honda Pilot head-on. The driver of the Pilot, NYPD detective Paul Duncan, 46, of Hartsdale, was killed, police said.

He was headed to work at the time, officials said.

The driver of the Civic, identified as 20-year-old Efren Moreano of Yonkers, was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla where he was in a medically induced coma, police said.

Sources said police are looking into the possibility that Moreano was intoxicated at the time of the crash and had been driving at least five miles in the wrong direction, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

Neighbor Cassandra Simpson lives above Moreano and his family in Yonkers and said that she doesn’t think he drinks.

“Every time he see me he offered to take my bags upstairs,” she said, “I’ve never seen him drunk. I don’t think he drinks.”

Police are testing his blood to determine if he was drunk, high, or otherwise under the influence.

Prior to the crash, another off-duty NYPD cop had called 911 after spotting the Civic two exits away from where the accident occurred, Stern reported.

New York State Police Capt. Doug Larkin said there were also calls from motorists in the minutes before police arrived at the scene.

“Given the fact that we only had a couple of minutes worth of phone calls, we’re assuming that he probably got on close by or we would have had more phone calls, but we do not know that,” he told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

The southbound right and center lanes were closed for hours as police investigated through the morning commute.

Al Ferretti said he drove by the crash site after sitting in traffic for about 45 minutes. At one point, delays extended back about two miles north to Interstate 287.

“For someone to be driving the wrong way on the Sprain, that’s kind of odd,” he told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.

Duncan was a married father of a teenage girl with 16 years on the force, Stern reported. He was a detective 1st grade and was assigned to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, police said.

NYPD Detective Paul Duncan was killed in a crash on the Sprain Brook Parkway on Friday, Feb. 27. (Credit: CBS2)

NYPD Detective Paul Duncan was killed in a crash on the Sprain Brook Parkway on Friday, Feb. 27. (Credit: CBS2)

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Rechelle Duncan fought back tears as she remembered her husband Friday afternoon.

“I think he was going to enter the next chapter of his life, and now he’s not,” she said.

As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, Duncan said she got stuck in traffic caused by the crash, but didn’t realize her husband was involved.

“My daughter and I got in the car at 20 of 7. We’re going down the road and there was a police car blocking us, and it took us two hours to get to school in the city,” she said.

She came home Friday morning to be greeted by the grim news.

“When I came back this morning – I got home about 9:15. I’m not feeling very well, so I was going to be at home today,” Rechelle Duncan said. “There were a lot of cars lined up, and I thought they were – I don’t know what I thought.”

A steady stream of friends and family came home to pay their respects.

“To me, they don’t even make too many people like that anymore,” said Paul Duncan’s brother-in-law, Charles Streeter. “He’s going to be missed, but… we have a large family, so we’ll get through this.”

Paul Duncan was just ten months from retirement, and now a family — including his 13-year-old daughter, goes on despite the awful tragedy. Rechelle Duncan said their daughter had been going through a rough patch, and now she has to deal with the death of her father.

“We were getting back to normal, and I’m concerned for what that’s going to mean for her,” she said.

Meanwhile, officials said there are major problems with the Sprain Brook Parkway.

“The Sprain Parkways is one of the most dangerous highways in the town — there’s always accidents,” said Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.

Feiner said the highway needs major safety improvements.

“The state government should give the state police and the New York State Department of Transportation more resources to improve safety,” he told 1010 WINS. “Improving the infrastructure, signage, having more state police manpower — something, I think, needs to be done.”

Feiner also told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith that budget cuts have taken a toll on State Police presence on the road.

“On the night of the fatality, there was only one car patrolling twenty miles (of road,” he said.

But while most drivers fear seeing a fellow motorist driving the wrong way, AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said there’s not much you can do if you encounter a wrong-way driver on the road.

“Unfortunately, many of our roadways lack adequate shoulders — definitely on the left side of the roadway, but on the right as well,” he said. “So very often, there’s not much you can do. Brake hard and hope that the technology of the vehicle, the crumple zones in the front and the airbags and what have, would serve to protect you.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hawthorne Bureau of Criminal Investigation by calling (914) 769-2600.

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