Thomas Stavola, a 54-year-old cardiologist, was arrested and charged with a DWI in June 2014 after he crashed into a vehicle driven by Monica Peterman, a 45-year-old mother of three. Peterman was taken by ambulance to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Stavola was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
According to police officials, Peterman worked as a dialysis technician at St. Catherine of Siena, the same hospital where she was taken after her fatal accident. While heading to work at 4:00 a.m., Peterman was traveling westbound on East Main Street in Smithtown. Stavola, a cardiologist at Stony Brook Community Medical P.C., was traveling north on Route 111 when he hit the driver’s side of Peterman’s vehicle at an intersection. Police arrested Stavola and charged him with DWI.
Peterman’s family members stated that she was very close to receiving her nursing degree. Bryan Greaves, 25, one of Peter’s three sons, remarked, “My mother, she enjoyed helping people. Whether it was on the job or outside of the job, she just helped everyone.” Besides her three sons, Peterman also left behind a husband.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), alcohol-related car crashes are responsible for one-third of all vehicle fatalities each year. In 2010, alcohol-related car crashes accounted for 10,600 deaths. Most DWI deaths occurred at nights and on weekends, with seven percent of such fatalities coming at the hands of a driver with a prior DWI conviction. An IIHS study revealed that drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher were more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. For instance, drivers ages 16 through 20 who have a BAC of .08 or higher are 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash; drivers ages 21 through 34 with a BAC of .08 or higher are seven times more likely to be involved in a deadly accident, and drivers ages 35 and over are six times more likely to be in a fatal accident if their BAC is .08 or higher.
While drunk driving is a problem, the number of drunk driving fatalities has actually deceased over the past few decades. In 1982, 50 percent of all car crash deaths were caused by DWIs. An ongoing study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that the number of drunk drivers on the road has decreased steadily over a long period of time. In 1973, 7.5 percent of all drivers had a BAC of .08 or higher. In 1986, that number reduced to 5.4 percent; in 2002, only 2.2 percent of drivers had a BAC of .08 or higher. Researchers attribute this steady decline to highly publicized enforcement of tougher DWI laws.
Police: Middle Island woman dies in crash with drunken driver, NY Newsday, Ted Phillips and Mackenzie Issler, June 14, 2014