Doctor charged with manslaughter in fatal crash
A Setauket cardiologist was indicted on manslaughter charges today for allegedly driving drunk and fatally striking a woman, then leaving the scene of the crash.
Charges against Dr. Thomas Stavola, 54, were upgraded to second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter at his arraignment this morning.
Police say Stavola ran a red light and crashed into a car on East Main Street in Smithtown back in June, killing dialysis technician Monica Peterman.
Peterman, a 45-year-old mother of three from Middle Island, was on her way to work at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center when she was killed.
Prosecutors say the force of the impact embedded Stavola's front license plate into Peterman's vehicle. They say Stavola then fled the scene, taking his backpack and cellphone with him.
"What I found to be particularly disturbing is that this is a medical doctor, and the victim was alive at the time," said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. "He chose not to render aid to her, not even to get on his cellphone and call for some form of assistance or the police. Instead he decided to leave the scene."
Stavola was arrested 90 minutes after the crash, and investigators say he smelled of alcohol. Prosecutors say he told the officers who arrested him that he thought he had hit a curb.
At the courthouse today, Peterman's family said the ordeal has been emotionally draining. Peterman's grieving mother says this past week was particularly difficult for Peterman's three children, who had to have their first Thanksgiving without their mom.
Stavola remains out of jail on $250,000 bail.