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Forest Hills driver kills fireman in L.I. crash: Cops

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A firefighter was killed and another was injured during a training exercise Monday night when a Forest Hills women who was impaired by both alcohol and prescription drugs rammed her car through barriers on a Greenvale, L.I. street, Nassau County police said.

Elizabeth Bartfield, 41, of 61-20 Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills, was driving her 1988 Nissan sedan southbound on Glen Cove Road when it careened into a lane cordoned off with orange construction barrels, cones and flares, striking the firefighters, said Lt. Dennis Farrell, commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Department’s Homicide Squad.

Police said the Forest Hills resident had mixed prescription drugs with an alcoholic drink, but her blood alcohol level was within the legal limit.

Alan Frye, 30, and Chris Baffa, 26, both of the Roslyn Fire Department, were hit by Bartfield’s car at 9:03 p.m., police said. Frye was thrown into the air and landed some distance away, while Baffa remained on the hood and eventually rolled off, Farrell said.

The training drill had concluded and the two firefighters were on their way to retrieve a hose line that had been connected to a fire hydrant when Bartfield’s sedan went hurtling toward them.

Based on eyewitness accounts, Bartfield never attempted to slow her car down, Farrell said. “It does not appear there was any breaking movement of the vehicle,” he told a news conference Tuesday at Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola, L.I.

Both firefighters were immediately treated by their comrades, but Frye died 40 minutes later at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Farrell said. Baffa was treated for minor cuts and abrasions and released, he said.

Bartfield, a dental hygienist, was charged with Driving While Ability Impaired, authorities said. She was arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead Tuesday and was being held on $30,000 bond, said Rick Hinshaw, a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney.

The Forest Hills resident was on her way home from work when the accident occurred, police said. Tests showed her blood alcohol limit was above normal but below the legal level for intoxication, Farrell said.

In addition to alcohol, police said Bartfield had taken a variety of anti-depressants for which she had prescriptions.

“She was under medical care for a number of psychological ailments,” Farrell said.

The charge is a misdemeanor but is subject to being upgraded pending an investigation, he said. Another court date was scheduled for March 28.

The Nassau County Police Department’s Homicide Squad was continuing with its investigation.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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