ISLIP, Suffolk County (WABC) — The family of a 36-year-old woman who lost her legs in a crash on Long Island is speaking out after police say a drunk driver slammed into her.
The crash was reported Saturday just after 12:30 a.m. on the southbound Sagtikos State Parkway just south of exit S1E, town of Islip, Suffolk County.
Police say Daijonee Vanderveer, a single mother, was driving southbound when she got a flat tire. She got out of the car and walked to the back to open the trunk.
That is when authorities say Kevin Rosasdaqui, 25 of Brooklyn, struck Vanderveer and rear-ended her vehicle.
The impact severed both of Vanderveer’s legs.
She was then rushed to Stony Brook Medical Center where she went straight into surgery and is said to be critical but stable.
A flurry of emotions poured out of the victim’s mom, Roberta Vanderveer, outside the hospital Monday.
“I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed, I’m thankful my daughter’s alive, I’m thankful she’s alive, that’s where I’m at right now,” she said.
An off-duty Suffolk County police officer returning home from a wedding saw Vanderveer and stopped to help.
“He took off his tie and he put a tourniquet around one of her legs and he took off his belt and he tourniquet her other leg, and another police officer tourniquet her arm, so she wouldn’t bleed out,” Vanderveer said.
“He doesn’t even know her, but he took the time to save her from bleeding out and that to me, deserves more than just a thank you,” said the victim’s aunt Lucille Jordan.
Vanderveer’s aunt, mother, brother and 15-year-old son were all at the hospital Monday.
“I’m trying my best to keep together, it’s fairly difficult to see my mom one day with legs and another, just her in the hospital,” her son Evan Vanderveer said.
Two passengers from the second vehicle were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A third passenger in the vehicle was not injured.
Rosasdaqui was also taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated.
The alleged DWI crash on Saturday was one of three over the weekend on Long Island. A person died in the other two crashes, but Vanderveer survived.
“Out of all those people that died on the highway, in crashes, and she was the only one spared it was for a reason and we’re grateful,” Jordan said.
As for the man charged in the crash, Vanderveer’s family said it’s so wrong.
“He didn’t even care and he gets to walk away like nothing happened? His life is the same,” Roberta Vanderveer said. “Nothing happened. All he gets to do is read what happened but he doesn’t get to feel it. He doesn’t have to live it and that’s wrong. I think it’s just wrong.”
Vanderveer’s family said she is now able to speak. They said they hired an attorney and they are seeking justice.
Anyone who has any information about the crash is asked to contact the New York State Police at (631) 756-3300.
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