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Off-Duty Officer Involved in Fatal Car Accident While Driving Intoxicated
June 2, 2010

The off-duty New York City police officer who crashed his car on the Bronx River Parkway last month, killing himself and a fellow officer and seriously injuring four women, had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit, the authorities said on Wednesday.

Toxicology tests showed that the driver, Officer Hoyoung Kim, 32, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16 percent in the early morning of May 16 when he slammed his 2009 Nissan Altima into a guardrail near the 233rd Street exit of the parkway, the police said. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

The car flipped over, ejecting the four women, who had been riding in the back, the police said. The officers and the women had left a party where they had met.

Officer Edwin Paulino, 25, who was also killed, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 percent, the toxicology tests showed, said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department. The officers were colleagues at the 32nd Precinct in Harlem.

Both officers were pinned inside the wreckage and were pronounced dead at the scene. Officer Paulino was riding in the front seat.

The findings offer the first explanation of alcohol's role in the 6:30 a.m. crash that Sunday as Officer Kim drove the women Melina Ramirez, 26; Iris Gomez-Ramirez, 27; Shirley Torres, 26; and Jasmine Ramirez, 20 home from a party in the Bronx for another city police officer.

Initially, the police said the cause of the crash appeared to be driver inattentiveness. Investigators did not find obvious signs or smells of alcohol at the accident scene, nor did 911 callers who stopped at the scene to help, one official said.

The official said that two of the four women later indicated that Officer Kim had not appeared to be drunk, while a third said he "appeared slightly intoxicated."

That sharply contrasted with what Melina Ramirez said of the crash, according to her mother, Ruth Briones, 66. Her daughter told her, from her hospital bed, that the officers appeared inebriated, Ms. Briones said.

Kenneth S. Litman, a lawyer hired by the families, called the case a "horrible tragedy" and said he was planning to file suit against the city.

"The girls are surprised of the blood-alcohol content," Mr. Litman said. "They know that the officer had been drinking, but they did not expect him to be double the legal limit. The officer, Hoyoung Kim, said, 'I am O.K. to drive; I am all right; I am a police officer.' He said, 'Trust me. I am a police officer. Trust me.' "




Website: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/nyregion/03crash.html?scp=2&sq=drunk%20driving&st=cse

 
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