MINEOLA, New York (WABC) -- A Long Island man was sentenced Friday to six to 12 years in prison for a drunk driving crash that seriously injured a police officer.
Keith Dillon, 30, of New Hyde Park, pleaded guilty on May 13 to aggravated vehicular assault, second-degree assault and aggravated DWI in the New Year's Day 2018 crash that permanently injured Officer Will Gomes.
Gomes was patrolling for drunk drivers when Dillon plowed head-on into the his patrol car at 70 miles per hour after crossing into oncoming traffic on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale.
"Our police officers put themselves in harm's way every day to keep the rest of us safe," District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "Police Officer Gomes was conducting a DWI patrol when he was struck head-on by this defendant who was drunk, high and speeding. In a very real way, he suffered the harm that this driver would have caused to random and innocent members of the public. He is a hero."
The crash happened just before 2:30 a.m., with Dillon said to have a .27 blood alcohol content while impaired by Xanax.
"I'm actually, in a way, glad that Mr. Dillon hit me and not somebody else, not an innocent family," Gomes said.
The force of the collision pushed the police car approximately 50 feet backward and rotated it 180 degrees. Dillon's vehicle flipped over and came to a stop approximately 30 to 40 feet from the officer's car.
Xanax and cocaine were found in Dillon's car after the crash.
The 38-year-old Gomes suffered a brain bleed, broken elbow and leg fractures that required multiple surgeries to repair. To this day, he walks with a permanent limp and cannot fully bend his left elbow or touch his face with his left hand, and he will require additional surgeries to regain mobility in his left arm.
Still, he spoke outside court after the sentencing and found the grace and strength to forgive.
"I don't hold any animosity towards him," he said. "Obviously, he's not a criminal, per say. He made a bad choice on that day."
Dillon, who suffered a fractured ankle in the crash, sobbed in court Friday and apologized for his "reckless actions."
Gomes came to America from India as a teenager and always wanted to be a police officer. Despite his injuries, he still loves the job and wants to eventually come back to the force.
"Hopefully with these surgeries, I could be well enough to come back," he said. "I certainly want to come back."
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Long Island man gets 6 to 12 years for DWI crash that seriously injured police officer