Brittany ComakJul 18, 2018, 4:52 pm

Charges upgraded for alleged drunk driver who permanently injured Nassau officer

Defendant pleads not guilty; lawyer says his client ‘feels incredibly remorseful’

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MINEOLA — The defendant in an alleged drunk driving crash that left a Nassau County officer with permanent injuries is now facing upgraded charges.

Officer Willard Gomes now walks with a permanent limp and a cane, and cannot fully bend his left arm, this more than six months after an accident that almost killed him.

"And no matter what the outcome of this case is and when it goes through this court process, what Will will never get back is the damage that was done to his body," NCPD Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

Gomes suffered a brain bleed, shattered bones in his teeth and elbow, and damage to his knee.
The 37-year-old has already had two surgeries and continues to recover.

"These are catastrophic injuries that he sustained on New Year's Eve. And it's nothing short of a miracle that Will is standing next to me right now," Nassau County PBA President James McDermott said.

On that New Year's Eve night, officials say defendant Keith Dillon was allegedly driving while intoxicated when he crashed head-on at 70 mph into Officer Gomes who was on DWI patrol.

"I was out that night trying to prevent such an injury to someone else, and it is ironic that it happens to me," Gomes said

The defendant is now facing an upgraded charge of aggravated vehicular assault while already facing charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. The prosecution said Wednesday that the reasons for the upgraded charges include the fact that Dillon's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit and because he has a prior DWI.

Dillon pleaded not guilty.

His attorney Marc Gann said his client continues to feel terrible about the accident.

"This is a tragic event. He feels incredibly remorseful for what happened. If he could take that night back, he would," Gann said.

Gomes said Wednesday he believes Dillon is remorseful but that it doesn't excuse drinking and driving.

"It's going to be a reminder every single day when I wake up that on January 1, 2018, somebody decided to drink and drive and change my life forever," Gomes said.

The charge of aggravated vehicular assault carries a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison, and the prosecution said they would be seeking the maximum penalty.

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