WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A White Plains firefighter accused in a deadly wrong-way crash was arraigned on upgraded charges Monday.
A 16-count indictment against Erik Refvik, 34, charges him with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, vehicular assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired by drugs, criminal possession of a controlled substance, reckless driving and various vehicle and traffic violations.
Bail was doubled to $50,000.
He was initially charged with felony criminally negligent homicide and misdemeanor DWI.
Refvik was off-duty last November when, police said, he drove the wrong way on South Lexington Avenue in White Plains.
His SUV hit a car stopped at a traffic light, killing 47-year-old Reyda LaMadrid and seriously injuring her husband, 49-year-old Edgar Lopez, prosecutors said. The couple was delivering newspapers at the time of the incident.
Refvik’s Chevrolet Tahoe was traveling at 65 mph when it collided with LaMadrid’s Honda Civic, prosecutors said. The force of the crash pushed the Honda nearly half a football field down South Lexington Avenue.
After the crash, Refvik put his SUV in reverse and slammed into the lobby of a nearby apartment building in an apparent attempt to get away, investigators said.
Refvik had been seen drinking in at least four different bars for 12 hours before the crash, prosecutors said.
Experts put his blood-alcohol level at .21 — more than 2 1/2 times the legal limit — at the time of the collision, prosecutors said. He also had “a cocktail of exacerbating substances in his system, which consisted of cocaine, clonazepam, and bath salts,” prosecutors said.
“This defendant, in a city that he both lived and worked, as alleged in the indictment, operated his car in such an intoxicated and impaired condition that he drove down a major thoroughfare, South Lexington Avenue, in the wrong direction for more than a third of a mile before crashing head-on into the victim’s vehicle. No less troubling was the fact that before the collision, this defendant spent the previous 12 hours on a drinking odyssey, enabled throughout, by the fact that only one of the at least four bars he patronized refused to serve him,” District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a statement.
Refvik’s lawyer, Andrew Quinn, said his client is in therapy and riddled with guilt.
“He’s deeply remorseful, deeply concerned,” Quinn said, adding that he’ll “certainly see the evidence first, the lab reports, the toxicology reports before we make any comment.”
“On its face it’s a pretty damning cocktail of drugs though,” CBS2’s Lou Young said to Quinn.
“I don’t think, Lou, that I could disagree with that statement, but I think the critical part is ‘on its face,’ and I think before we make any judgments we should see what the actual evidence shows,” Quinn said.
It’s expected the case could go to trial sometime in June, Young reported.
The suspended firefighter is due back in court March 26.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.