The accident happened in Riverside.
Police say Paul Nelson, despite having a suspended license for more than a year and allegedly taking drugs, went on a joyride Wednesday afternoon that resulted in the death of a beloved state worker, 60-year-old Louis Spero.
"He was suspended," officer Frank Bandiero said. "He wasn't licensed, and we arrested him for DWI.'
State police say the crash happened on an eastbound, two-lane section of Sunrise Highway when Nelson tried to speed past a vehicle in the right lane. But before he made the move, he rear-ended a state owned pickup truck driven by Spero. The impact of the collision was so bad that it caused the truck to roll multiple times, sending Spero through the windshield and killing him instantly.
"Hundreds of people now are mourning the loss of our Lou," colleague Barbara Chernow said.
Spero's colleagues say he worked as a state employee for eight years on construction projects, shuttling between the Stony Brook and Stony Brook Southampton campuses. They say he became well known for his hard work and was beloved by everyone on campus.
"He worked with a lot of construction workers, but he cared deeply about the campus and was the reason we were able to renovate so many buildings so quickly," Chernow said.
The victim leaves behind a wife and grown children.
Nelson is being held on $100,000 bail. Police say his license had been suspended because he didn't pay his child support.
WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS