A seven-year veteran police dog was killed in a car crash following the chase of a driver who fled a sobriety checkpoint early Sunday, September 2, Riverhead Town police said.
The dog, Rocky, had been in service since May 2011 and was killed after he was thrown from a police car that hit a utility pole on West Main Street, near Raynor Avenue, in Riverhead, according to police.
At about 2:30 AM, a dark colored Audi sedan entered the checkpoint and was directed to stop, but as an officer began to question the driver, he drove off, striking the officer. Police pursued the Audi but gave up the chase in Manorville — across the town line into the police district where Suffolk County Police have jurisdiction — when it was deemed to be too dangerous to continue, police said.
A police officer responding to the scene lost control of his car and it left the roadway, striking a utility pole on the south side of West Main Street, causing Rocky to be ejected, police said. The police cruiser, according to police, then ended up in a wooded area on the south side of the roadway, sustaining heavy damage.
Both the officer initially struck by the fleeing car and the K9 handler involved in the crash were treated at the scene by the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps and were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. West Main Street was closed while the investigation was completed and crews repaired the utility pole.
The driver who fled the scene has not been apprehended. Police are asking anyone with information to call 631-727-3333. All calls will remain confidential.