Yonkers Detective Frank Fernandez was a popular member of the police force, known for his charitable efforts, and recalled as “smart,” “funny” and a “faithful friend.”
On Friday, after his department revealed Fernandez was drunk the night last February that he crashed head-on into a city firetruck and died, his union chief added another word: “Imperfect.”
“What happened that day was a tragedy,” Detective Keith Olson, president of the Yonkers PBA, told The Journal News. “He was the heart and soul of our job. He was a beautiful man, but imperfect like all of us. He made a mistake that night.”
Toxicology reports indicated that Fernandez had a blood-alcohol content of 0.22 percent when he crossed into oncoming traffic and plowed into the Yonkers firetruck on Palmer Road shortly before 3 a.m. Feb. 14, Yonkers police said. The 45-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s obvious that Detective Fernandez exercised poor judgment, but he paid the ultimate price,” Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said in an interview Friday afternoon.
Fernandez had worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift that night – police had previously said it was a 4 to midnight shift – and left headquarters around 11:20 p.m., Detective Lt. Patrick McCormack said.
The investigation determined that prior to the crash, Fernandez had been at a local bar, which police do not plan to identify publicly, Gardner said.
Police said Fernandez’ speed likely contributed to the crash. Investigators used skid marks and other evidence at the scene to determine that the firetruck had been traveling about 34 mph, Gardner said, but investigators are unable to determine Fernandez’ speed because he did not brake before the crash and therefore did not leave any skid marks.