A Long Island heart specialist confessed in court today that, why yes, he was driving drunk when he hit and killed a woman last year after all.
Doctor Thomas Stavola then changed his “not guilty” pleas to “guilty” of Manslaughter, DUI and leaving the scene of a high-speed collision that left Monica Peterman dead in June 2014.
Ms. Peterman, age 45, who worked as a dialysis technician, was killed while driving to her job at St. Catherine of Siena in Smithtown, when Stavola’s car slammed into hers at what police estimate was at least 55 mph.
In the minutes after the crash, prosecutors said that instead of helping the seriously injured woman as a medical professional, the doctor gathered his belongings and quickly walked away from the scene.
Doctor Thomas Stavola, age 55 of Setauket, was witnessed fleeing the crash scene on foot and was later caught by police, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
When police officers finally caught up with the doctor, they wrote in their report that he smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. He tested positive for intoxication more than an hour after his arrest. He was initially charged with Manslaughter, Vehicular Manslaughter, Leaving the Scene of an incident without reporting, Reckless Driving and DUI.
“What I find so disturbing is that this was a physician who could have rendered aid to this woman, or at the very minimum, because he has his cell phone in his pocket, could have called police or some aid of any kind whatsoever,” Prosecutor Spota said.
Peterman’s family filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit earlier this year.
Stavola is scheduled to be sentenced in January, when he is expected to receive a 2-year sentence.